The window of Serge Romanov


“There is no window itself , an idea of  a window   as any means of culture contains expediency: anything that is not expedient is not a phenomena of  culture. Therefore,  a window is whether  light or wood and glass but it is never just a window”.

                                                                            Pavel Florensky, “Iconostasis”


For more than a century and a half one of the most fascinating novel that is the history of the Russian photography has been written. . Nowadays the events of the novel unfold in the decoration of various historical epoch, every one of them are seen through the eyes of the avowed masters of photography who honour the experience of their predecessors.   The young generation   longing for ultimate freedom also create   using and analyzing the  previous achievements in the area. Undoubtedly, books, the internet and a great number of seminars and master-classes give the opportunity to anybody to learn the experience of  the previous masters of photography.  However, how often do   photographers address to  it in daily practice?

Throughout history people have been eager for fairy tales, romantic and fantastic stories  you could hardly  believe. A  fairy tale is  mystery, that cannot be revealed by  any any teller, but only  those of them who believe in  and see…To see what  is hidden in the unreal world of the fairy tale,    to see love  that makes our real   world be not empty   . The basis for invention of the  photography is said to be the observation of the famous Greek scientist Aristotle.  In  the sixth century BC he described unusual phenomena of the light going through small hole in the window shutter  that  painted the landscape on the wall that was seen behind the window. Thus, long before  the appearance of the first shot the process of  developing into the light  was defined as  mystery.

A  piece of art is born not among theatrical scenery, but in  the  photographic studio where every object is functional. You can realize the magic of  the space  only after seeing what is being born  here. There are no unnecessary objects in the studio of   the Moscow photographer  Serge Romanov  , though  everything from  the antic wooden cameras ( repaired, in perfect working condition) and old optical devices till the characters  who visit the place resemble the first frames of cult movie “ The Phantom of the Opera.” Once forgotten, gone out  chandelier flashes out again and the world  comes to life with genuine colors. The history of  the studio of Serge Romanov  started when “ the photography  captivated him as a  kind of art.” According to his words, it happened 25 years ago.  It was simply interesting to capture what he saw around. There were neither camera nor films, nor money to develop and print films. His first camera was his own eyes.

Then there were  photo-shoots for the most prestigious glossy magazines  such as Playboy, XXL,   and works for such  companies as ТНТ, Vnukovo Airlines, FashionTV,Rive Gauche, FHM, STSTV, MuzTV and some others. He was recognized and  was invited to  a number of countries to give masterclasses and exhibited his work in the most famous art galleries in the world.  That really attracted him until he realized how expendable this kind of work could be. Adverts and glossy prints are interesting and important only for the period of time of a magazine’s latest publication or an advertising campaign’s launching, in other words for one or two weeks. This sort of work is performed collectively and the  proverb goes that too many cooks spoil the broth. Most of these works are boring and unvaried.

You are unlikely to have heard the word ambrotype unless you  have devoted your life to photography. In the middle of the nineteen century  it was   the invention of the ambrotype that made photography more popular and available. Then, in March 1851, the Englishman Frederic Scott Archer delivered a report on wet collodion process in photography at the Royal Scientific Society in Great Britain and at the Paris Academy of Science.  Archer called the wet plate collodion process   ambrotype . The ambrotype means immortal image in the ancient Greek.

The ambrotype as a fairy tale can be  created only when you trust in it.  Serge Romanov came into the world of the ambrotype mysterious way.  He has  become one of the best professional in this area and he doesn’t  care about his being popular and   only sometimes agrees to exhibit his works as he doesn’t want turn his art  into commodity. Serge Romanov remarked that the ambrotype came into his life as a sort of protest against the glossy emasculating picture. Only after some time had passed he realized that the wet collodion process had an indirect relation to photography as the ambrotype was an artifact. That’s why working with such an image means creation of an artifact.  It might have been  at that exact moment when he understood that he had grown into an  artist. As for his style, he admitted he didn’t know or he might be afraid to utter it aloud, supposing that as soon as he  does it he loses it.

The photo shots of Serge Romanov are easily recognized, even by those ones who don’t know the name of the photographer and are unaware of the wet collodion method.  His photo-shots are argued about, they are referred to, copied and posted on the profile at the social websites.  Also there are videos with his interview and lectures where he mentions  masters who has influenced his art , they are Pieter Bruegel, Lucas Cranach, Giorgione and Baldassarre Peruzzi, Hans Rudolf Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński and others.   Serge Romanov called himself    a simple observer with a camera and when opening the camera shutter he simply waited for a miracle to come and it did at the end.

Following the rules of the told fairy-tale, Romanov confirmed them, saying, that the best thing that could have happened to photography was that it became available to everybody. It stopped belonging to a narrow circle of swaggering people looking like possessing some sacred knowledge. A number of nice photos didn’t increase after that, but  a nice photo was distinctive in the swarm.

The creation of the ambrotype by Romanov is the sacrament comparing with  the masquerade  farfetched performance of those  who are in pursuit of fame. Possessing only superficial knowledge about the process of taking pictures  photographers commercialize the thing.  They are interested in presentation, not  in the process of creation. The debates about commercialized  epatage of modern photographers won’t come down but  occupying pages of more than half released  article and reviews. Nevertheless, people are eager for fairy tales. People believe in artless words of those who knows that the main mystery is love.

Serge Romanov supposes that a photo itself cannot be evaluated.  He takes into consideration a certain style of life of the personality, the way of giving oneself up to business  and what  it  results in.   In conclusion, we would like to say that  his works seem to become the chapter of the history of the Russian philosophy where the window is the light anyway.