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David Dector

Еxcerpts from conversation with David Dector

How did I get to be a photographer? In the winter of ’93 I was in Moscow, there I bought a Zenith camera for about twelve dollars. Then I went to the Yamal peninsula (Siberia) with Zenith and three rolls of film. I’ve been praised; otherwise I’d have probably taken up something else. And so I fell for it…

Anyway, I began taking pictures rather late, at the age of 32. Before that, I believed that to occupy oneself with photography was “sinful”, for at the moment of truth one was busy with the camera, fussing with the frame instead of living the moment. That’s why I went traveling – I did travel a lot – without any photo equipment. So. And yet nowadays I travel with a camera and in that I also find some wonderful values.

I also worked for four years as a night tutor at a children’s home. There I took pictures all the time. That, of course, was very serious, a very strong series. There was just one defect in it: it could not be published. I would have to get permission from all those youngsters and so on. We are allowed to take pictures of children but not to publish them. That was probably my first conscious project. Earlier I had started going to Turkey, photographed things there. I must say that my successful career had begun before I became a real photographer; at first they published me quite eagerly, Yamal for instance, later I went to Yamal once again as a one-man expedition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute. And now – I am a kind of photographer within myself, my career has more or less ended. Things happen like that…

L. Z.: Of what importance is the subject to you? The subject of photography?

Well, this is simple, for I have limited myself to such an extent that the subject becomes simply inevitable. First of all, I work with film. Then, my pictures are b/w and I do the developing myself. Usually I photograph only people. As I said once, “I love Nature but I photograph people”, strange as it may seem. And so, this is my subject: people and their relationships.
Once I invented a phrase: “a frame is a movie of one frame” which means that I build up something that goes on in that frame.

L. Z.: What role does politics play in your photography?

Politics is a fraud. The deception of ”these little ones”. I mean, it’s completely unimportant, the politics, as far as photography, or anything else, is concerned. I get very easily worked up, I’ll willingly share in the just wrath about some political circumstances or other but it has nothing to do with imagery.

J. K.: You are making an icon out of man. Why man?

That’s terribly interesting: why man? With my deeply involved attitude towards the existence outside of man, towards Nature, with my quasi-religious relationship with Nature, why do I photograph only people? I may go to the mountains for two weeks and take not a single shot even though I carry my camera with me. Of course, Nature is my first priority and yet I observe and build up images of people. Perhaps this is some kind of an attempt to see the essential in people.


The point of despair. Perhaps there is no creativity without such point of despair and, possibly, one cannot talk about the point of despair until one reaches it. As I understand the situation of Salgado, a great photographer, he could not photograph people anymore because he had despaired. Well, in Salgado’s case, he found some way of his own to overcome it. To put it simply, I have not despaired yet. Later, when we are there, we’ll find out what it is like.

Questions by Leonid Zeiger and Julia Komissaroff. Jerusalem. 2013.

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