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In 2017, Vladimir Migutin published his famous infrared series, Chernobyl: A Stalker’s Paradise, on our website. This series quickly went viral, getting picked up by many photo magazines and other media outlets. Five years later, we reached out to Vladimir to see how this viral story has impacted his life.
I am not a professional photographer but a software engineer. Considering myself a photography enthusiast, the scale turned out to be a little higher than I expected.
The album was shot in 2017 before the wonderful Chernobyl series by HBO was filmed. Prior to the visit, I had no plans to create a conceptual album for publication. Just to visit, photograph a bit, and see what was going on there at the moment. During the visit, the idea of creating a conceptual IR album came to my mind.
I made this project not only to draw attention to what happened in Chernobyl but also to spread information about this style of photography. The final result highlighted both goals. When the album went viral, a lot of people and companies started writing to me. I followed the wave. There were so many messages that it was impossible to answer all of them.
I’m an introvert, and my comfort zone is doing interesting things alone or with a few close people. During this period, I often had to communicate with people and be more open. It was a bit tough but pleasant and a super valuable life experience. I think this virility kicked me out of my comfort zone and expanded it.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the result. Many people asked me how to get there and if it’s dangerous (which it isn’t, if not doing silly things); they eventually visited and wrote me about their experience. Many people have asked in private messages or public posts about infrared and got answers or links to the Kolari website. My other projects have also reached a wider audience.
When you feel that people are interested in the art you are doing, and it brings them good emotions, it is like a pleasant breeze to the back, pushing you to continue doing the good you already know and experiment with new techniques.
Years ago, I saw an album by Richard Mosse called “Infra series.” He used Aerochrome infrared film to photograph the life of the rebel groups. This wonderful work pushed me to learn about infrared and, later, start doing it myself.
It’s allowed me to experiment with something new–the unseen. It changes the way you think while taking photos and is a bit different from standard visible light photography. It applies not only to IR photography but also to UV photography.
I never know exactly how the result will turn out with infrared photography until I check it on the screen. I can only approximate. With time and experience, this skill gets better. The fact that you can “predict” a scene, choose a filter, and create the desired mood, opens up a lot of artistic possibilities, thus making the process much more exciting and enjoyable.
Since Chernobyl: A Stalker’s Paradise, I have posted several small-to-medium albums and collections on my Instagram and Facebook pages, mainly portraits and travel albums.
Right now, I’m on a long journey and already have a lot of photos. I will probably be working on several conceptual albums soon. An album from the summer Alps is already in the making.