Winter can be quite painful and annoying to many people. At least to the ones living in the places of the world that have cold temperatures and piles of snow. However, this region in Russia called Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic, tops it off with winters that get as cold as -50 degrees Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit). The region is located 5,300 kilometers from Moscow and has almost 1 million residents.
A Yakutian photographer named Aleksey Vasiliev decided to capture the daily lives and struggles of the Yakutian people, showing what living in such a cold region looks like and what people do to pass the time. The photographer told Bored Panda: “In the past, I was an alcoholic. When I stopped drinking, I needed to fill the void that the drink left. Then photography came to me and taught me to see life more positively.”
We managed to get an interview with Alexey and he told us what inspired him to create these photos: “My dear Yakutia, where I was born, grew up, live. Although I used to dream of traveling the world. Yakutia seemed to me like a hole, an icy desert.”
As he mentioned before, Alexey used to drink a lot of alcohol, but replaced this bad habit with art and photography: “I loved to drink a lot. When I quit drinking, it was necessary to fill the inner emptiness with something. Before, I spent all my free time in a bar with friends, and when all this was in the past, I did not know what to do. Then I opened Instagram and started shooting. Gradually, this occupation began to fascinate me more and more.”
“Until 2018, I had not studied photography anywhere. I didn’t care about education. It was just a hobby. But in 2018, I won a grant to study at the DocDocDoc photography school. I studied documentary photography and shot my project about Yakut cinema, ‘Sakhawood,'” said Alexey when asked if he studied photography anywhere.
Alexey edits his photographs very minimally and says he’s not that good with Photoshop or Lightroom: “I hate to spend my time editing my photos.” For his photography, he uses a Canon 5D Mark IV and Fujifilm X100F, for anyone interested in the technical part of his photographs.
Alexey tells us more about Yakutia and what’s it like living there: “In Yakutia, it’s damn cold and long winters. Winter frosts reach -50 or even -60 degrees (-58 Farenheit to -76 Farenheit). This winter was really cold, so we had to live in -60 Celsius for a while. If it were not for the daily need to go out, people would prefer to stay at home all the time, drink hot tea and wait for spring. In winter, life practically stops, a dense fog during severe frosts obscures the sunlight for several weeks or months.”
“On weekends, there are very few people on the street. But it is the long, cold winters that have become a kind of brand of Yakutia, which guests from foreign countries are eager to get to know. For most residents, this is a reality that you have to put up with. Despite this, not everyone wants to leave Yakutia, because we have the internet, a cinema, a museum, and even a children’s library. We are not picky in search of the best benefits of large cities, we try to be content with small things and the nature that surrounds us everywhere. Nature is of great importance in the life of my people.”
Alexey told us more about the summers in the coldest region: “Despite the fact that winter is the brand of Yakutia, summer is the most favorite time of the year because it is short and hot. It lasts only about a month, from mid-June to mid-July, and can reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). We love to relax in nature, to walk until the morning.”
The photographer tells us more about himself and his life: “I’m not sure if this can be called a hobby, but I love watching TV shows (I love the Office), movies, and lying on the couch all day. I am a regular guy who once took a camera in his hands and started filming life around him. I didn’t aim to become a photographer, it happened by itself. I love Yakutia, my mom, and photography. Thank you.”
The photographer wanted to invite people to visit Yakutia: “Come to visit Yakutia and you will see how awesome this place is. You will never forget this trip in your life. I promise you.”
What do you think of these photographs? Would you like to visit Yakutia? Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to upvote your favorite picture. Also, go show some love to Alexey and his beautiful photos!