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Exposing another side of Sochi

By dpreview staff on Feb 19, 2014 at 08:00 GMT
Exposing another side of Sochi
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Exposing another side of Sochi

Turn on your local news or any sports network this week and you're likely to see Sochi, Russia. Hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi has absorbed an influx of athletes, fans and media for two weeks of competition. What isn't apparent from the coverage is what Sochi looks most of the rest of the year - a seaside, summer resort town. 

Since 2007 photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen have been documenting Sochi as they saw it change from quiet summer getaway to a world stage. Hornstra's photos show a Sochi that's different from the version the rest of the world has seen during the winter games. Take a look at a different Sochi, as seen through Hornstra's lens in our gallery. 

(Above) A view on the beach near Adlersky Kurortny Gorodok in Adler, a district of Sochi. ©Rob Hornstra/Flatland Gallery

Comments

Total comments: 178
12
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

Another nice documentary with Mamiya 7. Mamiya 7 has already established a classic status for documentary photography.

0 upvotes
HenriAntoine
By HenriAntoine (2 months ago)

Plus a 4x5 Horseman.

0 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

Looks like it.

0 upvotes
HenriAntoine
By HenriAntoine (1 month ago)

Hi plasnu. I know it for a fact. The big book you see in photo 12 has an equipment section at the end. "Rob's daily photo gear, 30.4 lbs.) Mamiya 7II medium-format rangefinder camera plus 65 or 80mm lens. Did not survive the Sochi project. Horseman 45HD large-format camera, 135mm lens. Favorite camera. Never refuses. Fuji X100 camera for quick digital snapshots."

0 upvotes
enemjii
By enemjii (2 months ago)

Unimpressed by the composition of these shots. Interesting idea, floppy execution. The photographer spent more time enjoying his 7 years in Sochi, mingling with folks, flying to and fro.

2 upvotes
22codfish
By 22codfish (2 months ago)

You should check with your service provider. There wasn't any problem watching the games in Nova Scotia. What brand of foreign TV gear do you have and which I should avoid? I think the ladies hockey final was much more exciting than the men's semi. My only regret was that there was too much good sports to see and not enoufgh time.

I looked again. Regardless of the previous reputation, i think I could give a P&S to any school kid in town and get better exposed and interesting photos in Sochi than this crap.

There was a lot of award winning sports photos taken in Sochi. Why not show these photos.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

I enjoy sports photography, but I hardly feel slighted by the absence of Olympic photos here, given their prolific presence elsewhere. This is simply an opportunity to engage with a different type of content. Why is that so problematic for you?

3 upvotes
captura
By captura (2 months ago)

Did you see the live feed of to-day's hockey semi-finals between Canada and the USA? Most of the time the images were out of focus and only swinging into focus briefly about once every 10 seconds.
- Why? Old Soviet equipment? Very unsharp with poor colors, no contrast or resolution.

0 upvotes
AndreyT
By AndreyT (2 months ago)

I watched the Russian HD coverage of the game from one Russian channel. And later a watched a download of the HD coverage of the same game by another Russian channel. I did not have any out-of-focus problems at all. The image quality was as stunning as we all got used to during these Olympics.

Everyone agrees, Olympics coverage form the day one blew everything done before out of the water. No previous Olympic games were covered with such stunning quality, from so many vantage points, including the technically challenging ones. It is just unbelievable. I don't think anyone in the world is currently in position to produce this sort of coverage of live event besides Russia (not out of technical considerations, but out of purely financial ones - few besides Russia can afford it).

5 upvotes
AndreyT
By AndreyT (2 months ago)

As for focusing problems that you allegedly observed... Was it NBC by any chance? This would sort of explain why nobody wants to touch NBC coverage with a 10 foot stick and prefer to download the coverage from elsewhere. Maybe NBC is who scavenged that "old Soviet equipment" for its own purposes...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
captura
By captura (2 months ago)

Not "allegedly." Please substitute "really." These forums do nor rquire such extreme cynicism.

0 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (2 months ago)

@AndreyT: Many countries can afford such equipment but very few would spend that kind of money without a return. I hope that there is some sanity left in the US and we will never see so expensive games in the US. Not that our dear leader has not thrown much more elsewhere.

0 upvotes
Black Box
By Black Box (2 months ago)

I don't know if it's intentional but I really like the "old" colors of this series. They somehow look very... Soviet, if you like. And they really show what Sochi really is - a dirty overcrowded cloaka with nothing to see, eat or go to. AVOID.

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

It's not old. These are very typical 90's Mamiya camera using Portra 400.

2 upvotes
Black Box
By Black Box (2 months ago)

It's 2014. 90's were 20 years ago and in a totally different world photographically.

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

Actually, Mamiya 7 is the one of the last film camera ever produced. Sold until 2013. Most contemporary medium format camera. Also, Portra 400 is the newest version of the Kodak film. Nothing old.

If you think digital is new and film is old, that's different story, though.

0 upvotes
buratino
By buratino (2 months ago)

Apparently, Sochi has been doing quite well as a hospitable host of 2014 Winter Olympics, if there is need in exposing its 'another side'.

0 upvotes
Black Box
By Black Box (2 months ago)

Yeah, North Korea looks very well as a hospitable host, too.

1 upvote
22codfish
By 22codfish (2 months ago)

THESE PHOTOS ARE NOT WORTHY OF A RESPECTED PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE.

3 upvotes
Black Box
By Black Box (2 months ago)

Nor is using caps in an attempt to attract attention. Try allitteration.

4 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

22codfish, I choose not to take your word as to what is worthy. I'm not entirely sure of what might be the basis for such a definitive proclamation. Perhaps you are looking at aesthetics in some sort of a vacuum, not evaluating concepts that inform the visual outcome(s); perhaps, like many here, you see a single dimension to the work, or think it to be simple propaganda. Such would be your opinion, and one shared by others here. Unfortunately that opinion tends to come from those not striking me as particularly intellectually curious, nor willing to entertain any possibilty of more depth of content in Hornstra's work. His projects have prompted much dialog, both academically and otherwise. His process in taking photographs, what he calls "slow journalism", involves respectful and often lengthy interactions with subjects, as does, in the case of the Sochi Project, the process of van Bruggen in writing the accompanying text. This really comes through in looking at the multiple publications that comprise the project, unfortunately not so much in the breadth of selections shown here. But, in DPR's defense, it is very difficult to represent complexity in a short article. My hope is that some may click on the links, and perhaps they will find something interesting in Hornstra's work (or not). And, yes, I think this makes it "worthy of a respectable photography website"; one apparently interested in a modest amount of content that might challenge perceptions.

3 upvotes
HenriAntoine
By HenriAntoine (2 months ago)

You will be disappointed to learn that the photographer won a prize in the world press photo 2012 with the Sochi Singers series. What you seem to be doing, judging this work by individual photographs that you may or not like, is not the best way of approaching the project. You have to take hours and hours, look at what this is about, read the texts, and get emphatically engaged. Sometimes appreciation of documentary work takes some time and work. Photographers like Hornstra are not interested in individual pretty pictures, but in building series of photographs that add to journalistic texts, here by his colleague in the project, Van Bruggen. Should you be genuinely interested, visit the Sochi project website. It will give you a much better impression of what this is about.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
digilux
By digilux (2 months ago)

Rob Hornstra can't go to Russia anymore, he was denied a visum without any given reason......

0 upvotes
fz750
By fz750 (2 months ago)

Shame, I thought the photos were quite interesting, just normal people doing normal holiday things and could have been taken in any number of european countries actually..

2 upvotes
Black Box
By Black Box (2 months ago)

BOOHOO!

1 upvote
vadims
By vadims (2 months ago)

In Soviet times, there was a saying among Preferance (card game as popular back then as Poker is today) players that roughly translates as "If I knew talon, I'd live in Sochi". Sochi is and has always been a beautiful place...

But a pig can always find mud; especially if it looks really, really hard.

3 upvotes
Black Box
By Black Box (2 months ago)

I sense someone has only knows Sochi from that saying. :-))) Sochi is EXACTLY as it's shown in these photos! VERY well caught.

1 upvote
vadims
By vadims (2 months ago)

> I sense someone has only knows Sochi...

I't high time to clean your sensor then.

0 upvotes
calking
By calking (2 months ago)

I've looked at the pictures here and on the website.

I think many of you are simply raving lunatics who can't wait to forum bash. To you Internet forums are like mosh pits at death metal concerts where you get to act out and hate everything and denounce or deride everything else you can.

This place looks just like any damned metro area in Europe or America. It has it's nicer places and its not-so-nice. Of course there are dumps there....where else does garbage go? Of course there are poor people...it's not Monte Carlo or the French Riviera you ding dongs.

If you have a thing about your country getting its butt kicked in the Olympics (which is precisely what spawns this drivel) it's not because of where the Olympics are.....it's because you're looking for a scapegoat.

As far as politics go there isn't a country on earth that isn't run by thieves and crooks, and in many cases murderers.

9 upvotes
ryanshoots
By ryanshoots (2 months ago)

Martin Parr "The Last Resort"

0 upvotes
B1ackhat
By B1ackhat (2 months ago)

This is a complete load of s**t. I've been to Sochi and the entire premise behind this series of photos is a farce. Sochi is a dump and a city of savages. The buildings are crumbling, the water is contaminated, and they poison/shoot dogs in the street.

1 upvote
0MitchAG
By 0MitchAG (2 months ago)

I love how your comment says that Sochi is actually horrible and that these photos paint a nice image - contrary to most people here. Shows that none of you really have a clue about Sochi.

0 upvotes
KodaChrome25
By KodaChrome25 (2 months ago)

All the negativity. Amazing. Having to slog through 12 images, and having to vent while foaming at the mouth, instead of just moving on. Oh the torture!

@ZAnton - thanks for the Cardiff link.

@agentul - "...oh, and it'd better be shot with a Leica or Pentax, just so that the camera can be fully part of the debate." LOL!

1 upvote
Stitzer23
By Stitzer23 (2 months ago)

More like sochi overexposed.

0 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (2 months ago)

It is very simple. You can go to a city and photograph its garbage heaps, then find a 5 drunk and 5 ugly people and make "a portrait of a Russian".
That is what western media always did.
Photos on this site are recent, but PP-ed to be old-looking, combining with what I said it makes a feeling of an ugly, underdeveloped country with stupid people just a bit higher than African tribes. (and those crazy apes have a BOMB???)
Some other tricks used by western media:
- cool (blue) filter (although european part of Russia is WAAAAY hotter in summer than most of the Europe)
- shooting from the ground level - more dirt&dust, strange POV = strange people
Just think about it, when you will see just another shots of Moscow in a Hollywood movie.

So my advice - don't watch the propaganda, buy a ticket, visit a country and see it by yourself. Make your own route. In a group of western tourists you will still visit all garbage heaps in the region and stinky ditches, instead of real cultural objects.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (2 months ago)

By the way, were these photos on the main page?
http://www.maciejdakowicz.com/cardiff-after-dark/cardiff-after-dark-photos/

2 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

I really don't want to repeat at length my comments posted earlier, but I think your snap judgement of this work being used for propaganda - the simplicity that you proclaim - belies the full context of the project as well as fails to understand the overall interests and concepts of this artist in his complete body of work. I have followed him for sometime and his work is certainly not one-dimensional.

Such aesthetical characteristics that you mention are shared by a number of contemporary artists such as Rineke Dijkstra, many of whose work is never referenced as propaganda. I will say, as I did earlier, such an aesthetic has become rather tired within contemporary photography. However, those visual characteristics are less a product of post processing, as you claim, than strategies employed while shooting using medium and large format film cameras (I am in no way suggesting that such an aesthetic is inherent in those formats).

2 upvotes
22codfish
By 22codfish (2 months ago)

Starting months before the Sochi Oylmpic Games, the American TV propaganda has grossly overstated the terrorist dangers at Sochi, and neglected the true value of these comradely games. If it happened in Atlanta, New York or Munich, it could happen anywheres. Perhaps those who are still fighting the cold war don't want Americans to know just how friendly the Russian people can be. It's too bad, because now a lot of American would be tourists are afraid to travel outside their own borders. Americans can be friendly also.

Give us some award winning photos of the Sochi games.

3 upvotes
stdavid
By stdavid (2 months ago)

Then if it is only western propaganda why did the Russians spend 3 billion on security?

2 upvotes
HenriAntoine
By HenriAntoine (2 months ago)

It may be interesting to know that last October, Hornstra was refused a visum to come to Moscow for the planned exhibition at one of Moscow's premier art galleries. The gallery had to cancel the exhibition. As b craw has pointed out, these guys have done their investigative journalism in the region of the politically explosive Caucasus region, on which Sochi borders, since 2007. They have documented the human, social and economic cost of territorial and ideological warfare in the region and interwoven it with stories about the human, social and economic cost of Putin's games. More than enough reason for a visum refusal, and more than enough reason to rest assured that there is a very significant point to the whole project.

The project has raised many of its means through very innovative forms of crowd funding, which made many of the publications possible. Indeed, dpreview could follow up on this story by interviewing Hornstra about his take on crowd funding for photographic projects.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Stollen1234
By Stollen1234 (2 months ago)

whats the point about these photos. i dont like Russia especially the political system..but sofar as a i heard from the athletes they all are very satisfied with the olympic games sofar despite the media trying hard to tell us otherwise.

this website is about photography and camera..i dont think politics or displaying such photos is appropriate.

this website was founded by british people..so i could post amazing photos about east London or other part of the country which you could think its a 5th would country.

shame on you Dpreview

2 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

Shame on DPR? You are entitled to your interpretation of the images but I really think you need to consider the project in more depth. It is not taking pot shots at the reality of the none Olympic face of Sochi; quite the contrary. The images and text provided in the totality of the project simply present an interesting contrast. DPR shows very few of the images and even those are not served well be the term "exposing", which is really not so much appropriate in terms of the overall tenor of the work.

3 upvotes
captura
By captura (2 months ago)

Fine, but this otherwise fine display on DPR highlights how difficult it can be to view and operate some of the features when using a tiny computer such as a netbook.

0 upvotes
stratplaya
By stratplaya (2 months ago)

Very interesting since we all know economic disparity occurs only in Russia.

4 upvotes
MrPicky
By MrPicky (2 months ago)

For a minute I thought that was Alabama.

6 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (2 months ago)

show unflattering images from a country trying to repair its international image and expect rational critique of the work in question by various dpreview users.
Borat: NOT!

will we have this every month? Romania was in January, Russia (or Georgia, according to some) was in February... will we have an Eastern Europe theme throughout the year, or will we get to see a more varied selection? protip: post a similar collection shot in the Middle East and watch the servers fry from all the comments. oh, and it'd better be shot with a Leica or Pentax, just so that the camera can be fully part of the debate.

3 upvotes
Stephan K
By Stephan K (2 months ago)

To put the expenditure at Sochi into perspective, the cost of USD 51 billion is equivalent to 50% of the annual govt expenditure of my country, South Africa (population 50 million). Putin and his friends in the construction business have had a field day.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (2 months ago)

$51 godzillion is an "estimate" with no actual proofs.

0 upvotes
stdavid
By stdavid (2 months ago)

In the six and a half years since the I.O.C. awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics to Russia, the state has disbursed more than $50 billion to prepare Sochi and its surroundings for the Games. Most of that money is being paid directly from the federal budget to various contractors. Billions go through Olympstroy, the state Olympic construction authority, which has had four directors in six years. These will be the most expensive Olympic Games ever mounted. (The Games in Vancouver, site of the previous Winter Olympics, cost only $7 billion.) How much of Russia’s $50 billion has gone to fund Olympics-related activity and how much covers kickbacks, bribes, and shakedowns is anyone’s guess.

2 upvotes
M DeNero
By M DeNero (2 months ago)

It's a disgrace that the Olympic Games can be hosted by a place like Sochi. A place where the ordinary, dingy, even neglected exists directly mingled with gleaming hotels and sports installations. Contrast that to the US and Canada, where winter sports centers are gleaming, exclusive fairylands full of wealthy people, superb hotels, shoppes, bars, and restaurants. The people who work hard to keep these amenities spotless and smooth-running live in towns miles down the highway, often in trailer parks where drug abuse, alcoholism and family abuse are common occurences. A much better arrangement - at least it's hidden. Unlike Russia.

7 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (2 months ago)

Funny that you should mention alcoholism and relate it to the US, on a page about Russia...

1 upvote
M DeNero
By M DeNero (2 months ago)

Funny that you don't get the point: that no places are perfect, even those with glossy veneers. And of course that thing about glass houses and stones.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
mcam
By mcam (2 months ago)

“A place where the ordinary, dingy, even neglected exists directly mingled with gleaming hotels and sports installations.“

This description fits China too.

3 upvotes
PinkertOn
By PinkertOn (2 months ago)

@M DeNero:
Not very smart from you to post here such groundless statements. Calm down a bit, everything'll be okay.

4 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (2 months ago)

@DeNero: What you do not get is that this is the good side of Sochi, not the bad one. You see people enjoying the beach, entertainers, people dancing, etc.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

The Sochi Project actually consists of a series of publications featuring Hornstra's photographs and van Bruggen's texts, resulting from multiple visits to Sochi. It cannot be very successfully argued that these works do not have a political dimension - they do. But taken in totality they strike me as more interesting as mediations of the photographic relationship of photographer and subject, identity, as well as editorialization relating to place. Hornstra has spoken of his processes, which include using medium and large format film cameras, as a means of lengthening the interaction between himself and the subject, thus establishing a form of ease, even intimacy; this is a calculated decision as to process. While similar aesthetically to the likes of Rineke Dijkstra, often absent obvious concern for gymnastic angles and other formal devices often used in photography, his photos can often present a flat matter of factness of subject. It can at times feel both removed and piercing or humanizing. I state this from my own perception(s), not what is written about his work. Fair game to criticize formal dynamics, political dimensions, etc., but I've found some decent rewards in spending some time looking at a larger selection of his work.

5 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

Despite appreciating much of Hornstra's work, the aesthetic often resulting, at times strange and satisfying, is starting to look tired in the photography world; it has become a mannerism.

0 upvotes
duchamp
By duchamp (2 months ago)

Aesthetic...mannerism...I don't know what you are talking about: these lousy pictures look like taken from a family album. And are of any interest only to the family they belong to.

Strange that they made their way to the front page of a premium internet site. Maybe they are here because a famous photographer made them? This is a shame that lousy pictures are considered great only because their author is famous. Wake up, the king is naked!

9 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

The use of the term "mannerism" is in most cases used critically. I mean no great offense to you in saying that not looking at a wider representation of this project by Hornstra and van Bruggen might not serve you well, causing you to dismiss pontial photographic merits too quickly; but it is your prerogative not to investigate at depth. I do have extensive knowledge of photography, as an educator, to perhaps see content you do not. This may cause a cascade of views calling me pretentious. Indeed there are times "the emperor has no clothes" in art. It does happen. But I'd encourage you to not to say to me "wake up" as it is a bit insulting to me and others sharing an interest in looking a bit closer at potential content. As a "premium" photo site, there are some members interested in looking a bit closer at photos and considering things perhaps not immediately on the surface.

For those quick to assess this work as one dimensionally, simply presenting a wholly negative representation of the culture, I'd also suggest a bit of a wider look at the context of the project. DPR's use of the term "exposing" in the tag line frames the work in an inappropriate way. I believe this was not intentional. And I pleased by continued attempts on their part to present various contemporary photography.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

By the way, was Duchamp's work not challenging and contrary to the aesthetic and artistic conventions of its time?

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (2 months ago)

It is your pseudonym after all.

0 upvotes
DanielFjall
By DanielFjall (2 months ago)

@duchamp

This is the kind of style of photography I've always wanted to do. They're great! Subject, post process and especially composition.

0 upvotes
LaFonte
By LaFonte (2 months ago)

Run out of the pictures of double toilets, are we?

6 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (2 months ago)

I hope this doesn't transpire but Putin now has 40,000 troops in Sochi that could be moved to the Ukraine to recapture Russia's breadbasket.

6 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (2 months ago)

Sochi -- it is like the Key West, Florida of the Russian Federation.

Only someone totally warped in the brain regions like "Vlad the Terrible" Putin would be wanting to and in fact able to sell this beach-side resort city as a site for holding the WINTER Olympics.

Of course, perhaps no international "non-profit" organization is more disreputable today than the International Olympics Committee. For enough money, they will do anything.

3 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (2 months ago)

What is $51B to a guy, who controls all Russian gas & oil industry? This narcissistic lilliput can afford building Olympic premises even in the Sahara desert. Too bad for many Russian people who can't afford the basics.

4 upvotes
M DeNero
By M DeNero (2 months ago)

This beachside resort is close to high mountains. The outside venues have not had perfect winter weather, but better than the Vancouver Games. Similar to Northern Italy with the moderate Mediterranean and Adriatic coasts near the Alps.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
stdavid
By stdavid (2 months ago)

Sochi and Vancouver have almost identical climates. Vancouver had a rainy spell which did a lot of damage to the snow but it is only luck that the same thing didn't happen in Sochi.
Average temp in Feb
Sochi 10-4C
Vancouver 8-3C
Humidity is nearly identical.

0 upvotes
bobus
By bobus (2 months ago)

I can can see all that and more in Tijuana.

3 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (2 months ago)

And there are many more places where you can find ruin porn, trashy visitors, and kitsch. Unfortunately, this article makes it appear that the only two things to see in Sochi are the remnants of the USSR and the new Olympic construction. There are many wonders of nature around: mountains, caves, waterfalls, parks. It's upsetting that there's not a mention of things that are actually inspiring to see.

11 upvotes
bobus
By bobus (2 months ago)

I'm happy that dpreview didn't try to whitewash Sochi. Our media in the US is determined to hide the truth from the people.

1 upvote
daciangroza
By daciangroza (2 months ago)

The Sochi Project is amazing!
Unfortunately it flies way above the heads of the vast majority of dpreview readers and forum members.

8 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (2 months ago)

Not everyone can attain your level of superiority. But I do like these photos. They seem genuine. There may be bit of slyness going on but this looks about right for this part of the world.

4 upvotes
daciangroza
By daciangroza (2 months ago)

Don't worry, I'm not too happy about myself either ;)
But reading most of the comments you have to agree.

0 upvotes
Suntan
By Suntan (2 months ago)

I must be one of these daft dpreview members you are badmouthing...

Honestly, what I saw in those dozen or so pictures was just a bunch of boring, mundane pictures that could be taken anywhere in Eastern Europe; or Europe or America too for that matter.

Meh, go buy a book from people looking to cash in on the topical olympics if you want. Not me.

-Suntan

9 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (2 months ago)

But daciangroza is right, if blunt. The comments are a cesspool of closed-mindedness, insensitivity, visual naïvety, and ignorance of all that is art. Not to mention several bizarre comparisons with Detroit, a sprinkling of jingoism, some anti-communist comments (talk about a dead horse!), etc.

Every time DPReview veers away from technical discussion of cameras I realise I share little in common with most of its participants. It’s very depressing.

Suntan, Rob Hornstra is hardly trying to make a quick buck. Educate yourself: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0ezab8k2Ds

7 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (2 months ago)

@ Samuel: If you truly dislike "anti-communist comments" to such an extent, how about moving back to god old North Korea then, huh? And short of that -- to Venezuela, Bolivia, or Cuba, hmmm?

1 upvote
daciangroza
By daciangroza (2 months ago)

@suntan - go past that dozen pictures and follow the link. You'll find an 8 chapter project spanning a few years and containing text, pictures, audio and video clips.
I guess the editors are wasting their breath trying to show actual photography and reportage work.

1 upvote
Suntan
By Suntan (2 months ago)

@dacia - no thanks. I don't care about the city/people of Sochi any more than I care about the city/people of Leoben.

...Where's Leoben you say? It's in Austria.

...Why would that place matter you say? It doesn't at all. Same way Sochi wouldn't matter if it didn't happen to be the current location of an international sports competition.

Thus, book published to cash in on the timeliness of the Olympics.

Buy it if you think it looks interesting, personally I don't care about the city and from the little I've seen of the book it holds the same level of interest to me.

-"I guess the editors are wasting their breath trying to show actual photography and reportage work."-

Not at all. If they post about something I actually care about, or images I find visually striking, I'd be much more likely to take interest. However, they haven't, at least not on this page.

-Suntan

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Suntan
By Suntan (2 months ago)

-"Suntan, Rob Hornstra is hardly trying to make a quick buck. "-

Never said they were trying to make a "quick buck."

I said they are doing this to capitalize on the timeliness of the Olympics. The reality is that nobody had even heard of Sochi prior to about 4 months ago. If the Olympics weren't going on right now, this book would have never been made.

-Suntan

0 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (2 months ago)

Suntan: well of course the project only exists because the Olympics are being hosted in Sochi. The project is documenting precisely that!

It’s therefore odd to describe it as “capitalising” on the Olympics, as if that were a shameful or underhand thing. But even if the project was only cynical opportunism, and the work a mere byproduct of that commercialism, it would be no less valuable to me. It stands on its own merits.

Two things in particular bother me about your comments. One: you are ignorant but cocksure. And two: you are not just ignorant but wantonly so. You don’t care about Sochi, you think no-one had even heard of it before the Olympics, you don’t care about the people of Sochi, and you proudly state for the world you don’t care.

Not everyone is so closed-minded. Some people are interested in other people. Frankly, I can’t understand how a human could look at Hornstra’s photos and not be fascinated with what they show. Are you sure you’re really looking?

1 upvote
Derp
By Derp (2 months ago)

Picture 9, the man dancing in the background, on the left, looks like an actor. I don't know the actor's name.

0 upvotes
Roger VM
By Roger VM (2 months ago)

The guy who played Adrian's brother in Rocky

0 upvotes
Retzius
By Retzius (2 months ago)

I'm not sure how these are offensive "cookie cutter" images of Russia...

I have been to Russia and much of it looks very much like this. You see modernization sprinkled in with obvious relics (both physical, mental, and behavioral) of its Communist past.

If this offends than some really need to get a thicker skin. Americans are criticized and ridiculed all the time. After a while, you realize the attention is rather flattering ;)

9 upvotes
Sir Corey of Deane
By Sir Corey of Deane (2 months ago)

"Americans are criticized and ridiculed all the time."

The birds peck at only the BEST fruit!

1 upvote
ipecaca
By ipecaca (2 months ago)

Seems to me that you see what you want to see. And this book is clearly aimed at people alike.
"I have been to Russia and much of it looks very much like this." Russia is 10k by 4k km, would be interesting to hear were exactly in Russia you've been, to throw such statements). I'm Russian, but I won't say for the whole Russia.

3 upvotes
vadimraskin
By vadimraskin (2 months ago)

I lived there for much of my youth (24 years) and he is absolutely and 100% correct. Modern Russian cities do look good on the outside but there is still plenty of old Soviet past that is lurking just under the surface.

2 upvotes
ipecaca
By ipecaca (2 months ago)

DPreview, seriously?!
Awful composition and subject, apart from the fact that these pictures are obviously biased and proclaim a certain point of view. Sad
3d pic - blown sky and some trees and building, what is this shot about?
5th,6th - odd guys and a lot of meaningless surroundings, again, what's here?
9th - at least shows some thinking about composition from photog side
10th - gravel road and some grass, so what?
11th - huge construction works, so what?

1 upvote
dd67
By dd67 (2 months ago)

5th,6th - odd guys and a lot of meaningless surroundings, again, what's here?

The Sochi Singers series recently won first place for the Arts and Entertainment—Stories category at the World Press Photo 2012 awards.
You can have a look here if you are interested.
http://www.worldpressphoto.org/photo/2012-rob-hornstra-aes1-al

I think, the main problem is, that the images shown here are teaken out of the context. The book ist great.

Cheers, Dirk

3 upvotes
ipecaca
By ipecaca (2 months ago)

Thanks for the link, but world press photo is another questionable authority...
I mean really, these local singers mostly just sing other aritsts' pop songs and don't inherit any ingenuity, what's special about them? And more importaintly, will this series evoque any interest, if not for Sochi olympics?
What really disappointed me is the title actually, a very loud one, for this kind of work. What is a poor implementation wrapped in fancy looks. But there will always be demand for this type of photography, which gives the reader and the author a mutual "feeling" of contemporary art.

0 upvotes
Frank C.
By Frank C. (2 months ago)

Sochi is one of Russia's resort towns and we are shown pictures like this, not really the glit and glamour we are accustomed to in the west. But Russia barely has a national debt, not the nearly the 18 trillion of the US, so it's unfair to make comparisons. I wonder how things would look if they went on a spending spree and threw some money around. That picture of the cook with the fat electrical wire hanging on the wall behind has a lot of character, Russia's past can be seen right there. I enjoyed this series of pictures and honestly didn't expect anything different.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
qartlo
By qartlo (2 months ago)

Sochi is Georgia, not Russia's town.as you know sochi is Occupied by Russia. about 20 years ego Russia provoke the war in Abhkazia and thousands of Georgians were banished from Sochi as well as from other towns of abkhazia. these people are still waiting to return to there homes. but abkhazia is Occupied from Russia. you can search history of Abkazia and learn the truth.

1 upvote
forpetessake
By forpetessake (2 months ago)

"I wonder how things would look if they went on a spending spree and threw some money around."

Who said the didn't! You just need to look at the Putin's and other oligarchs palaces -- the Saudi sheiks would be jealous.

2 upvotes
PeterTom
By PeterTom (2 months ago)

qartlo:
At first glance it seemed to me that you were confusing Sochi with Sukhumi (I liked Sukhumi when I was there in 1974 for a half day trip as a child, but I know that nowadays it is quite destroyed).
Then I tried to "learn the truth" and I found the information that Sochi has been taken by Russians - but not 20 years ago. It was in 1829 i.e. 185 years ago. So saying "Sochi is occupied by Russia" is approximately as true as saying "California is occupied by the USA".

Comment edited 23 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
wudyi
By wudyi (2 months ago)

I love the results of film. Next best would be iPhone w/ VSCO & Snapseed presets.

0 upvotes
howardroark
By howardroark (2 months ago)

Returning to a previous medium by use of artificial recreation is the worst kind of artistic trickery and manipulation. Either use the same medium that produces an effect or consider yourself a hack. You are selling your artistic integrity to those who are too superficial and shallow to recognize that you are the prostitute and they are the John. It's sad that creativity can't speak for itself without trying to convince an audience that the artist or the art is something that it is not.

5 upvotes
wudyi
By wudyi (2 months ago)

So I'm a hack...with millions of others. Deal with it.

5 upvotes
howardroark
By howardroark (2 months ago)

Yep, that's a big affirmative. There are tons of hacks and tons of people who love hacks. You get to use all the dirty, cheap tricks in the book and your audience gets to choose whether they love that crap or not. If I saw an image on a museum wall that looked like it was taken in 1922 but had a 2014 date on it with a description saying it was taken with an iPhone and run through Instagram filters I'd know instantly to never pay any attention to that artist ever again. I know a lot of photgraphic tricks that make a mundane image look great, but that doesn't make a close-up of a flower with extremely narrow depth of field great artwork. It makes for a striking picture that has been done a trillion times and takes no talent at all to produce.

Comment edited 37 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
wudyi
By wudyi (2 months ago)

You should learn to ignore us "hacks." Truth be told, I think you've got a beef with hacks because they've upstaged you.

2 upvotes
howardroark
By howardroark (2 months ago)

The default defense against a criticism is that it is motivated by jealousy. Another indication of one's complete lack of imagination.

1 upvote
lotzi
By lotzi (2 months ago)

Well, these are deeply conventional pictures, which present a cookie cutter view of how, in general, Eastern Europe is supposed to look like. They kind of fit with the current Chevrolet Cruise commercial broadcast during the Olympic Games, which appears to cater to the conventional view of American, Russian, Chinese, Indian couples, their dress, and music. These are the kind of pictures, where the photographer, at home, decides what the mood and style of the pictures will be, plans his trip accordingly, and takes the pictures of the rightly chosen people, places, angles etc. As a "specific project", these are well executed.

A _good_ documentary would require the photographer to start with an open mind, explore different facets etc. Simply searching the web for images on "sochi beach" and "sochi nightlife" would probably give a better idea of what a visitor would actually experience going there (of course, except if he is really looking for a certain pre-established vision)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (2 months ago)

Being Russian (Muscovite) myself I don't see any prejudice here. This is what Sochi IS. When I was a kid, my parents took me to Southern Coast of Crimea, which always was less populated. My own experiences as an adult (I've been to Lazarevskoe on 2006) are quite dreadful... I don't fancy the idea of beach vacation in general, and Sochi is, probably, a worst-case scenario for it, if you don't count Egyptian Hurghada, which now is almost the same. Overpopulated, tasteless, overpriced and what's called service there might ignite your desire to have armed squad or at least a beast-like solicitor in your pocket. Probably that's because it is the only more or less southern beach resort for those who can't go abroad for this or that reason (only 15 or so percent of Russians have foreign travel passports, add xenophobic attitude, air phobia and habits since Soviet times). Other options include Eastern Baltic (quite cold) or Pacific coast near Vladivostok, the least is too far almost everyone

11 upvotes
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (2 months ago)

Technically, Crimea still remains the option for those who want domestic beach vacation, but it is more expensive and Ukrainian border control is sometimes quite nasty on certain checkpoints. So if Russian wants to hit the beach, can't go abroad and is afraid of air travel, Sochi, Anapa and Gelendzhik are the only options for the one, because it is not that difficult to get there by train or car from Central Russia. Although cheapest summer trains don't have proper air conditioning and lavatories there are nasty, if work at all; and southbound roads are hunting grounds for corrupted traffic policemen, not to mention the quality of these roads. Available mountain ski options are more numerous (Khibiny mountains in Murmansk region, Caucasus around Elbrus, some places at Ural mountains, and some in Siberia, Sheregesh being the most popular) and Sochi slopes are not the best, albeit favorite one of our, ahem, president and prime minister... but they have their own reasons to like it there

6 upvotes
ipecaca
By ipecaca (2 months ago)

Ignat, there are options for beach vacations along the Volga riveras well, namely Astrakhan'.) If you've been to Lazarevskoe and around, you know that there are usual pebble beaches there and one or two sand beaches as well.)

1 upvote
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (2 months ago)

ipecaca, some people see "beach" only as "seaside"... For me, any kind of beach vacation longer than two days is a hard trial.

1 upvote
inframan
By inframan (2 months ago)

Surprisingly trite takes on its subjects & uninspired composition/processing.

2 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (2 months ago)

As with almost everything that matters in photography, Jörg M Colberg of Conscientious has covered this guy several times – including an interview way back in 2008, here:

http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/a_conversation_with_rob_hornstra/

I like Rob Hornstra’s work and his obsession with books and his contribution to the iconic Dutch photobook. Good stuff.

1 upvote
dpreviewblog
By dpreviewblog (2 months ago)

DPreview and politics? Strange combination.... IMHO

8 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (2 months ago)

But politics is everywhere, it surrounds us just like an air. You can ignore it (self-delusion), you can distort it (propaganda), or you can report it (documentary).

5 upvotes
klopus
By klopus (2 months ago)

Where do you see politics?

4 upvotes
Iliah Borg
By Iliah Borg (2 months ago)

More on Sochi http://nashe-nasledie.livejournal.com/1508962.html

1 upvote
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (2 months ago)

DPR, we should be able to click on one photo, open it in higher resolution, and go left and right with the keyboard arrows, like in FLICKR.

1 upvote
tinternaut
By tinternaut (2 months ago)

Not to mention an uncrop feature.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMIHNiR3CP8

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
rrr_hhh
By rrr_hhh (2 months ago)

It is funny : the landscape standing in the background of the stage in picture 5 is a typical tourist view of the lake of Geneva it represents the Castle of Chillon with the Dents du Midi (the mountain in the back). It is seen from Montreux. Another picture seems to represent the Asian bay of Halong (although I'm not really sure of that last location)

1 upvote
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (2 months ago)

The "Toilet" sign on the right is my favorite.

0 upvotes
reginalddwight
By reginalddwight (2 months ago)

I find nothing wrong with the Sochi photos in general. However, what is oddly distressing to me is the 2nd one, showcasing a 77 year-old Russian man sporting a captain's hat and a bikini brief.

3 upvotes
buratino
By buratino (2 months ago)

From the original Sochi Project link below those odd 12 pictures: 'On the small private beach, at the bottom of a steep staircase where our putyovkas are checked, we meet Viktor Alexeyevich. A retired shipbuilder from Murmansk, he has happily made use of the gratis opportunity to relax in Sochi for years'.

Similar picture from there is titled 'Viktor Alexeevich on the private beach of sanatorium Metallurg. Sotsji, 2009'.

Oh, in Russia men used to wear 'bikini briefs' without any extra message.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Kuturgan
By Kuturgan (2 months ago)

I hope Dpreview wont do politics ever.

3 upvotes
agentul
By agentul (2 months ago)

GH4 for president!

0 upvotes
Kuturgan
By Kuturgan (2 months ago)

Why not to show todays Sochi? It is not the same city as it was 5 years ago.

5 upvotes
DavidKennard
By DavidKennard (2 months ago)

I'm pretty sure the point was to capture what life was like before (and partly during the transition period) to today's Sochi. Personally I find their work on the Caucasus very interesting.

4 upvotes
buratino
By buratino (2 months ago)

Actually, those 12 photos show very little of Sochi even 5 years ago, be it worst or best side. Very weak selection. But leaving some... 'aftertaste'. Coincidence?

7 upvotes
Iliah Borg
By Iliah Borg (2 months ago)

Here is todays
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=z574CEtM6LY

1 upvote
mcshan
By mcshan (2 months ago)

Sochi can not be as bad as it appears here. The photos are nothing special but I suspect that was done by design. I would guess there is an agenda here. I have seen hell holes in many parts of the world.

10 upvotes
Just another Canon shooter
By Just another Canon shooter (2 months ago)

I do not see hell holes here. I find the photos to be excellent. If you have never have been to places like this, you can miss the subtle messages. #1, for example, is a piece of art, IMHO.

2 upvotes
forpetessake
By forpetessake (2 months ago)

"I have seen hell holes in many parts of the world"

You mean you've been to New York?

1 upvote
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (2 months ago)

It is real Sochi in all its "glory", games or not. Dunno what will go on there after the games, but when I'm on assignment there to cover another economy forum come summer, I doubt I'll pack swimming trunks, even if I'll have time to hit the beach after days of pushing my camera button at pointless conferences and panel speeches.

What I know for sure is that my next vacation destination is not a beach or a mountain ski resort, and by no means Sochi. For me it is a hell hole even if they bring there the whole piece of beach from Florida, complete with hurricanes and the US jurisdiction. That place is cursed to be forever disgusting. I'd better spend a week around Aberdeen bay in Hong Kong or at steel factory in Magnitogorsk on my own expense than at Sochi at someone's else, thank you very much.
As for the "design"... well, if I were you, I'd rather believe these images than Russia Today channel or Russian federal TV in general (compared to which the RT channel is THE example of truth)

3 upvotes
Kuturgan
By Kuturgan (2 months ago)

Ignat Solovey
Что-то для фотографа ты слишком разговорчивый. Что так грязью поливаешь свою родную страну и народ, если ты типо патриот?

2 upvotes
ilyarom
By ilyarom (2 months ago)

The pictures telling a story - this place is sh..t, people there are ... about same, strange, dirty any ridiculous...
Well - this is a point of a photographer, expressing his emotions. A person looking for a dirt as an object of art can find it even under his nails...
The pictures of Sochi broadcasted all over the world are equally realistic as the pictures posted here.
The idea I think is clear - the investments in region were huge, mostly spent on infrastructure, hopefully Sochi region will be a better place after games, geographically it is no worse than Turkey. Why not make it no worse place that Turkey ?

Just to remind - this is a sort of photographic site... The value of posted pictures is rather cheap... Not much to discuss.

3 upvotes
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (2 months ago)

Kuturgan, I'm not a patriot, who told you I am? I have to say that I'm much less talkative when it comes to politics, than most of fellow camera people. And you'd better be more attentive to what I write. I just don't like Sochi, as well as St. Petersburg (and I have my own reasons not to like SpB). Vladivostok is nicer, as for me.

А где написано, что я патриот? Надо сказать, что я вообще сильно менее разговорчив, во всяком случае за политику, чем большинство коллег. Я таки фотограф, да. И читал бы повнимательнее. Просто мне не нравится Сочи, так же, как не нравится Питер (у меня есть свои причины не любить Питер). Владивосток, например, мне нравится.

2 upvotes
ccclai
By ccclai (2 months ago)

The Beach looks lousy

4 upvotes
Ignat Solovey
By Ignat Solovey (2 months ago)

In reality it is even lousier than seen here. Much dirtier and more crowded.

1 upvote
pew pew
By pew pew (2 months ago)

I like the photos very much : ]

3 upvotes
Wedding photographer
By Wedding photographer (2 months ago)

Dear DPReview readers,

My name is Konstantin Mineev, I am a wedding photographer from Russian city Voronezh (photography is my favorite hobby).

Two years ago I had happy holidays with my family in Sochi and took several photos. Sochi is amazing city with very kind people.

I suggest you to look on our photos that have been taken with cheep Canon 1100D + Samyang fisheye + Sigma 30mm/1.4 .

Please see our photos on the link below:
http://zoomvrn.ru/portfolio/family-foto/family-foto-in-sochi-2011-december

This is another "another side of Sochi".

If the photo is a reflection of the photographer's soul, then what is the inner world of a man who has made ​​such bad shots in this wonderful city?

With the best regards, Konstantin Mineev.

17 upvotes
dg90
By dg90 (2 months ago)

"I suggest you to look on our photos that have been taken with cheep Canon 1100D + Samyang fisheye + Sigma 30mm/1.4"
I don´t think, that a better equipment will change the "mood" of the pictures.

What ever - the "Sochi project" pictures are mediocre at best, no matter which side they showing.

1 upvote
Bervilat
By Bervilat (2 months ago)

That baby has the best faces. Nice pics!

0 upvotes
Wedding photographer
By Wedding photographer (2 months ago)

Hello All,
Bervilat, thanks :) I love this face more than everything :)
Thank you very much for your responses.
We have returned yesterday from the Olympic Sochi. I am converting several raw's now. Fresh photos coming soon, I will post the link here.

1 upvote
D1N0
By D1N0 (2 months ago)

I think both sides of Sochi are there. The side you show depends in the interest of the photographer. You can make these pictures anywhere. Even in the richest and most glamorous city in the world.

0 upvotes
Bruce McL
By Bruce McL (2 months ago)

"If the photo is a reflection of the photographer's soul, then what is the inner world of a man who has made ​​such bad shots in this wonderful city?"

Well said. I was born in Los Angeles, California, and lived much of my early life there. My father was born there, and my grandfather lived most of his life there. Most of my cousins were born and raised in LA.

Many, many movies and television shows have been made that are set in Los Angeles. My opinion is that most of these moving pictures show what the photographer is thinking rather than any Los Angeles that I or my family are familiar with.

Now we see many different images of Sochi and we wonder which ones are “real.” A better question is what does the photographer have to say about what they are seeing. When the photographer uses techniques to make their photos look more “real” or “iconic,” I tend to think that they are trying to hide the fact that they don’t have anything to say.

1 upvote
spidermoon
By spidermoon (2 months ago)

I don't really like this new style of treatment, desaturate, overexposed sky and blueish tint.

5 upvotes
Samuel Dilworth
By Samuel Dilworth (2 months ago)

I have to laugh at your description. “New style”? It’s film!

5 upvotes
ipecaca
By ipecaca (2 months ago)

I'm sorry, mr. Dilworth, have you ever actually shot film? It's a high quality media, capable of producing superb results, still used by some professionals in fashon photography etc. What we see here is exactly "desaturate, overexposed sky and blueish tint" to look like lomo-style pics from disposable cameras.
Anyway, as I understand from the post, this is not film, but "desaturate, overexposed sky and blueish tint" treated digital photos, so spidermoon is correct, nothing to laugh about.

2 upvotes
LucM
By LucM (2 months ago)

It is film. Hornstra works with a 4x5 inch large format camera and a 6x7 Mamiya 7II

2 upvotes
Total comments: 178
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