A couple of years ago I went to the Vladivostok film festival with my feature film Last Ride. I had been there a few years earlier with my short film Cracker Bag and it always remained a strange and very surreal place in my memory. This time I really wanted to explore a lot more of the city than I was able to the first time. I made contact with a photography student who lives there and he drove me around for days exploring the outer suburbs, translating, meeting locals and generally looking much further afield than what a film festival introduces you too.
I have a whole bunch of photos from this trip I've never really shown anybody. Some photos I took one night of some skateboarders ended up in the 2012 CCP Documentary Award, but the rest are just taking up space on a hard drive unseen for the moment.
I just came across this shot I took while exploring an abandoned building. The building was in the middle of the city which is congested noisily with cars and pedestrians but inside the building it was surprisingly quiet and still. The ground was littered with rubble and used syringes.
On one of the upper floors I was startled to find a couple of kids sleeping on a window sill. At first, I really thought they were were dead as they were so 'lifeless'. But as I stood still I could sense their breathing, slow and faint. I'm not sure if they were stoned, drunk or just tired. I thought they looked so peaceful perched on the window, soaking up the sunlight, blissfully unaware of me or the four story drop to the ground just behind them.
I'm pretty sure this wasn't their 'home' but I did feel a little like an intruder. I wasn't sure if I should take a photo. I felt that in some way I might be stealing some of their solace. But of course the documenter got the better of me.
I only took a few of quick shots, edging closer with each frame, trying to get close enough to see them properly, but far enough away not to wake and disturb them. Each step crunched broken glass underfoot and in the big empty space the normally quite shutter on my camera seemed to heavily 'clunk' and echo through the empty shell of the building.
Later when I downloaded the images I saw that the boy sitting up was almost cradling his friend in his lap, the detail below shows his hand resting gently on his friends cheek.
It's a moment and a photograph that has stayed with me. In all it's sadness and it's beauty. I hope these two had found a moment of warm escape and were dreaming deeply of different lives in different places.
I've often thought of them and wondered what they were up to and what they might be doing now. I hope they are both well. They seem like perfect characters for a film.