iPhone Meets Hasselblad: Analog and Digital Unite in Ukraine

Anastasia Taylor-Lind
The above image shows a viewfinder video portrait of a man called Oleskiy by the barricades of Hrushevskoho street. Feb. 27, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. 

LightBox put together this post on Anastasia Taylor-Lind’s protester portraits before clashes between anti-government protesters and police in Kiev left over 70 people dead, and before the now ongoing crisis in Crimea. The anti-government demonstrations — which had focused on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the Ukrainian name for Kiev’s Independence Square – began late last year when President Yanukovych backed away from a European trade and political deal in favor of closer ties with Russia.

Since our Feb. 6, 2014 interview with Taylor-Lind, the protest movement has overthrown President Yanukovych and the opposition has set up an interim government. During the unrest, Taylor-Lind stopped her iPhone portrait series and went on assignment for a German newspaper. She started the project again afterwards. And while the newer videos may look very similar to those that came before, “this time,” Taylor-Lind says, “Kiev was in mourning.”

These images look a bit like something you’d see on an early 20th-century mutoscope, but the videos featured in Views From My Belly Button — an ongoing Instagram project by photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind — probably couldn’t be more timely. The video portraits were taken on the fringes of the Maidan anti-government protest camp in Kiev, and are the result of the photographer mounting an iPhone on her Hasselblad camera via the use of an elaborately constructed arm, and then filming what she sees through the viewfinder.

A viewfinder video portrait of Igor, 29,  from Lviv.
The above image shows a viewfinder video portrait of a man named Ivan.
The above image shows a viewfinder video portrait of a Maidan protester.

Most of the videos focus on anti-government protesters based in the Hrushevskoho Street area of Kiev. They are just short vignettes, and evolve as her series progresses.

“There was a lot of trial and error,” Taylor-Lind, whose assistant built the iPhone arm using parts of a Manfrotto tripod, tells TIME. “We’ve adapted it a few times as we figure out better ways to make it work.”

The above image shows a viewfinder video portrait of anti-government protesters singing the Ukranian national anthem

For Taylor-Lind, the series is not just an aspect of her principal photography work; it is a new form of work in itself.

“I asked questions like, how can I bring my audience with me?” she says. “I thought about what I could add to those conventional images, the so-called ‘real images’ that I make.”

Taylor-Lind’s is seen posing with a protestor in her makeshift Kiev studio.
Taylor-Lind’s iPhone is seen mounted to her camera. She uses a Bronica and a Hasselblad.

“I now realize the world looks quite different through the ground glass of my 6×6 cameras,” she adds. “I think social media is really exciting, and I am even more excited about discovering new ways that we can use it to enhance the stories we tell.”

Anastasia Taylor-Lind is a photographer with VII. See more videos from Views from my Belly Button here. Her book MAIDAN – Portraits from the Black Square is out now. Taylor-Lind is also working on a long-term documentary project called Negative Zero, about Europe’s declining populations.

Richard Conway is Reporter/Producer for TIME LightBox. Follow him on twitter @RichardJConway

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