Following the Art Photographers of the Past

Собор Вознесения в Вытегре. 1909 г. Московская область Сергей Михайлович Прокудин-Горский
Собор Вознесения в Вытегре. 1909 г. Московская область Сергей Михайлович Прокудин-Горский

Capturing the essence of time and preserving the soul of a place – this is the main idea of ​​the category "Live Archive" of "The Most Beautiful Country" photo contest. For the second year, the RGS is inviting authors photographing in Russia to try on the role of philosophers. The objective is to capture a cultural or natural monument so that, when compared with old photographs, one can understand what has been preserved, what has been irretrievably lost and how the role of man has changed. And if last year the organizers of the competition offered only pictures selected by our experts, this year we are allowing to recreate photographs from family archives.

This year, the gallery of the category "Live Archive" is offering a number of very interesting and versatile photos, representing almost all regions of Russia, taken at different times of the year. Here are panoramas of old Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Caucasus Mountains, pictures of the nature of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Oblast, the majestic domes of monasteries and temples.

There are also photos of wild nature – the rocky shores of the Ural rivers, the Altai mountain ranges, the Sikhote-Alin lakes, the landscapes of Sakhalin, even the islands of the Sea of ​​Japan and the polar station at Cape Dezhnev. There are pictures from the life of the old resort towns of the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus, Stavropol Krai, Crimea, taken in different years – from the beginning of the twentieth century to 1950s.

Among the classic photographs are the Tobolsk Kremlin, and the streets of St. Petersburg during the flood, old railway stations, and bridges across the great rivers under construction. All these places and monuments can become subjects for photos for the competition. There is the selection of locations and the inspiration sources for almost every taste and geographic region. The task is to shoot from the same angle as 50-100 years ago.


Виды улиц и площадей Санкт-Петербурга, затопленных во время наводнения в ноябре 1903 г. Санкт-Петербург, Санкт-Петербург РГАКФД

It would seem that the very conditions of the category set the participants an easy task. But it's not that simple. The masters of classical photography carefully chose the composition of their photographs and the lighting conditions. The cameras of photographers, technically different from modern ones, did not distort the proportions, did not tilt the vertical lines. The processing of pictures in the old way, the use of glass plates, made it possible to additionally use the artistic possibilities of the photography technique. Each shot became an almost perfect image, achieved with great skill.


Тюмень, вид на Затюменку, авт. неизв., нач XX в. Тюменская область, Тюмень РГО

Pictures of the legendary Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky occupy a special place in the Gallery of the "Live Archive" category. His photographs captured a historically accurate and artistically meaningful gallery of images of ancient Russian cities and villages of the Volga Region, Siberia, the Urals, the Russian North; domes and walls of monasteries; scenes of rural life, picturesque fairs, tending the fields. He was one of the "fathers" of color photography, the first and only one of our compatriots to use the color separation method. Of his vast legacy of more than 3,500 photos only about two thousand have survived. But this is an undeniable golden fund of not only Russian, but also world landscape and historical photography.


Сергей Прокудин-Горский, церковь Иоанна Предтечи на Малышевой горе. Старая Ладога. 1909 г.
Сергей Прокудин-Горский, церковь Иоанна Предтечи на Малышевой горе. Старая Ладога. 1909 г.

The authors are offered a wonderful creative task – a century later, again, show the viewer the same landscapes and city panoramas. In many cases, the subject has changed a lot, but a photographer, using their art, can creatively rethink what they saw, bring in their own unique perspective and create images that will become not a repetition, but a continuation of history. And having found themselves at the same shooting points as the legendary master, a modern photographer will have a unique opportunity to feel the connection of time periods, to understand the thoughts and feelings of the classic author. This opportunity makes this category, perhaps, the most interesting in the competition.


Смоленск. Успенский собор с востока. 1911 г. Смоленская область Сергей Михайлович Прокудин-Горский

Most of Prokudin-Gorsky's photographs were taken during the summer months. The conditions of our competition for the current year limit the deadline for accepting works – until April 5, 2021. Therefore, we are offering those who wish to participate in this category to do so in two stages – to take a photo from the same angle, without waiting for the summer, and send it to the competition of 2021. And in the summer season, return to the selected photo and shoot it again for next year's competition. This will be an interesting application for further participation in "The Most Beautiful Country" photo contest.


Северо-западная часть города Златоуста. 1910 г. Челябинская область Сергей Михайлович Прокудин-Горский

The partners of the category are the Russian State Film and Photo Archive and the “Krasivaya Kniga” (eng. “Beautiful Book”) publishing house.

We would like to remind:

"Live Archive" is a ​​special category of the VII "The Most Beautiful Country" photo contest. Modern photographs recreating archival photographs are accepted in this category.  You have two options on how to take part in the competition in this category.

Option 1: recreate the archived images we suggested.

Option 2: recreate pictures from your own family archive.

If you chose option 1, your actions are as follows:

- select the original archive photo that you want to recreate (for convenience, the images are sorted by region);

- take a modern shot in the same place, preferably from the same angle;

- upload a modern photo to your personal account.

If you chose option 2, your actions are as follows:

- take a modern picture, recreating a photo from your archive (it is advisable to use archival photographs of the 19th - first half of the 20th century, but photos of the 1950s – 1970s will also be accepted for consideration);

- upload an archive photo and a modern one recreating it to your personal account. Please note that in this case, the participant of the competition must comply with two conditions – he or she must be the author of a modern photograph, and also have the rights to an archive photo in the amount described in section 10 "License Agreement" of the Regulations of the competition.

Gallery of the "Live Archive" category