A cozy and friendly, measured and almost desert City of Kirov in photos by Vladimir Tyrtov

© Vladimir Tyrtov
It happens that looking at a photograph you understand for sure — it was taken in the 60s of the last century. But an author tells you that he took it last week. How is it possible? We have talked to a photographer from Kirov, Vladimir Tyrtov, who takes pictures of his city, avoiding its bustle, modern gloss and “air-conditioning warts”.
— In your photos, the city of Kirov looks very cozy, homely warm, with a measured and calm life. Is it really like that?
— Like any city with its history, Kirov is diverse. It can be imagined as a Stalin’s type of house in which all epochs and customs coexist at the same time. Here are both the apartments with interiors from times of the USSR and those who survived the “European-style” renovation, and “I have made it from what I have had”. The front facade can be glamorous, while the inner yard façade has crumbling plaster and air-conditioning warts.
© Vladimir Tyrtov
© Vladimir Tyrtov
© Vladimir Tyrtov
© Vladimir Tyrtov
— There are almost no photos of the city bustle, rush, traffic jams in your account… Is Kirov deprived of all these or do you avoid it?
— I avoid it very diligently. Favorite time is about five or six in the morning, when the city is just starting to wake up. Separate windows light up, janitors and dog-owners come out. I walk around the courtyards of houses built before the 60s of the last century. I'm trying to show the city as it used to be. Or what it could have been without its bustle, rush and surplus of cars. I try to shoot “out of time” so that the photograph would be appropriate both fifty years ago and now as well as in several decades.
— What prompted you to create an account?
— At the end of 2017, I decided that I needed to lose some weight and I started walking for several kilometers. At first, just to the music, but gradually I began to look around. And take photos with a phone. I think it was the music that helped to see the city from the other side.
Of course, I wanted to share my photos and I have remembered the existence of my Instagram account, which was already registered in 2012 and was waiting in the wings.
— Has it ever happened to you that someone recognized their house or windows in your photos and wrote to you about it?
— I try to avoid unambiguous indications of the location in the shot. Therefore, the most frequent question from residents of Kirov is “Where is it located?” People don’t know the city very well outside of their main routes. And through the photographs, together with me, they discover a sincere and cozy city.
I am sometimes asked to photograph a particular house. Such requests usually come from those who left the city long time ago, or who have childhood memories associated with the city, or have relatives who lived here.
© Vladimir Tyrtov
© Vladimir Tyrtov
© Vladimir Tyrtov
© Vladimir Tyrtov
— What do you shoot with?
— My first camera was Smena 8M. I photographed on it a lot during my school years. I developed films and printed photographs in the light of a red lantern.
In the modern period, I took pictures with a phone and a plastic camera. For the last year I have been shooting with a “cropped” camera. In the dark, I prefer a 32 mm high-aperture lens. In the period of dawns, when the light plays on the streets — it is zoom 18–150 mm.
— Tell us the story of a photograph or a house in it.
© Vladimir Tyrtov
— This is one of my favorite locations. In spring and autumn, three light sources converge here at the same time: the sun's dawn, the light of the lantern and the porch window. And the house itself is interesting. It was built in 1804. It is part of a complex of four houses built in the provincial classicism style. The houses were built for the servants of the cathedral, so the facades face the cathedral (it is behind the viewer's back).
— Do you go for the photographs on purpose or are you just shooting what comes along your way?
— It happens so and so. I have studied the city well enough and, depending on the time of year, day of the week, weather and mood, I choose the route.
If we are talking about a specific location, then I wait for the right time of the year, the weather and purposefully go there by the time when the light needed for the picture is available. For example, in spring in March and in autumn in September, the sun rises along the streets leading from the river, and I can’t simply miss such moments.
If the weather forecast promises snowfall at night, then early in the morning there will be several places where the snow will not be touched by janitors or spoiled by car traces. And I run there.
© Vladimir Tyrtov
If there is no specific goal, I go along the route invented for today in search of the “decisive moment” - when all the elements of the picture come together into an inseparable whole in order to disintegrate in the next second (as Henri Cartier-Bresson) has defined it. For example, a light in a window may suddenly go out. Or the accidental headlights of a passing car can bring a completely picturesque atmosphere into the shot.
— Your account is now a little over two years old. What are the plans?
— Learn to draw. I would like to try to convey through the painting what sometimes cannot be expressed through the photography.
There is also a suitcase of black-and-white photographic films that my father and I took in the 1970s and 1980s. Only a small part of them were printed for the family album. The rest of the shots are waiting in the wings.
And of course, I would like to expand the geography beyond Kirov.