Джессика Вернеке


In the late 1950s and early 1960s, photography became re-popularized as an amateur hobby, which had been unavailable to Soviet citizens since the early 1920s and the liquidation of original amateur societies. Khrushchev’s attention to consumer goods meant that cameras and equipment were affordable for the first time in decades. In lieu of formal educational structures for both professional photojournalists and amateur photographers, Sovetskoe foto and the photo section of the Union of Journalists took action. Almost every issue of Sovetskoe foto contained approximately twenty to twenty five pages devoted to amateur photography. Articles addressed the technical skills required for amateur photography, and offered lessons in photographic aesthetics, written by the most prominent photojournalists, photography critics and theorists in the Soviet Union. In Moscow, Leningrad, and many other cities, amateurs founded photography clubs, which offered lectures and workshops for amateur photographers. These clubs hosted their own exhibitions, and participated in national and international exhibitions both in the Soviet Union and abroad. Amateurs also submitted their work to Sovetskoe foto, where photography masters critiqued their work. By the late 1960s, however, some amateurs found the photography club environment stifling and elitist. As a result, amateurs increasingly found themselves caught between creativity and conformity in order to maintain club membership and exhibition opportunities. Ultimately, while some chose to attempt to reform this trend from within clubs, others turned to unofficial and non-conformist art photography as a creative outlet.


amateur photography; Sovetskoe Foto; Photography clubs; VDK; Novator


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