Sally Brownbill

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Photographer Valery Klamm.

– posted by Sally

Whilst at the HeadOn Festival I met Valery Klamm. He is an unassuming man with a gentle manner. His work encompasses a part of the world that I have not ventured to yet.
He and I spent a few dinners and exhibitions together amongst fellow photographers.
For me, being part of the HeadON festival was all about meeting photographers like Valery- It was an honour!



doc project from Novosibirsk / photo blog community capturing rural Russia

Valeriy Klamm, BOM’ coordinator:

In early 2000th I organized international team photo expeditions throughout Siberia / Northern Asia – Altay Mountains, Great Rivers. We tried to see and show – what’s going on in the depth of the country when happens nothing, apart of capitals and news...

Than in late 2009 I launched collaborative web-based project – Birthmark On the Map, blog that started as a Novosibirsk regional initiative devoted to local communities and now counts more than fourty contributors from the whole Russia – amateurs and prize-winning professianals with their imagery of “life out of big cities”, and even Australian Sam Harris is on board ☺

In the Russian language the word rodinka means both “a birthmark”, a small dark dot on the skin, and “a small Motherland”, that place on the map which ties living ones with a feeling of home.
In focuse of our project – “simple stories of simple heroes in simple circumstances”. Reality of province: villages, small towns. Everyday life in its beauty and majesty... May be there are a key words to describe essence of BOM project – understanding, sincerity, cordiality. Courage to live and smile. Seeing a joy in simplicity.

On the grass-root’ level (storytelling of provincial life) lays common things that make feel kindred. Journalism of “problems with no solutions”, bloody capturing – well, it was a mission, may be it still is - partially… But business also. Assignments, editors’ clichés, following expectations… And audience close to get deadly tired and reject it.
On the other hand – photography that’s scared to be closer to people and running away to the empty and cold landscapes...

People are looking for internal bearings/ piers. It might be called the hope.
BOM community is trying to dive into the depth and find such a special treasure.
We want to be as close to the folk soul as you are in, to see the endless or the eternal - away of dinamic big cities. To catch the essential in attempt to save and keep it existing…

And if you are at the sort of crossroad of people’ needs where melting TOP and BOTTOM, does’nt exist vanity, occurs deep understanding, warm smile and courage to live – there is a big chance that will be lots of people who’s ready to share what are you doing.
...You’ll find your life worthy and will never be alone...  ☺

BIRTHMARK ON THE MAP archive to browse:
(**captions&texts in Russian only so far**)
Contact: Valeriy Klamm, project coordinator, email:,
mobile in Australia 0498260387, mobile in Russia +79139102721, skype: klami4
THE SIBERIANS (photo book by Valeriy Klamm based on BOM)

doc project from Novosibirsk / photo blog community capturing rural Russia

archive to browse:
Contact: Valeriy Klamm, project coordinator,
email:, mobile tel +79139102721, skype: klami4

“... We use the language of photography to tell stories of ordinary people living outside of big cities. We want to show regular provincial life of countless “small motherlands” which form our great country. Everyday life in its beauty and majesty...”

Photo blog “Birthmarks On The Map” launched at the end of 2009 on Novosibirsk regional business portal as its “humanitarian part”, a web resource dedicated to “daily life of small local communities in the region”

This documentary project about day-to-day reality of countryside was initiated by photographer Valery Klamm and supported by the Government of Novosibirsk region.
We decided to tell sincere “stories about us”, coarse and liric ones simultaniously...

The subject proved to be important and interesting for many. The blog quickly expanded to include participants from other regions (professional photographers, amateurs and students) with their stories of Russian provinces. Also rural life became a basis for “building photo bridges” with other countries (“Birthmarks On The Globe” rurbric, launched with australian photographer Sam Harris).

“I think it's important to put our stories from provincial Russia in global context by displaying "non-capital life" of the other countries..To understand and compare, to discover the common and the dissimilar..”

Starting summer 2010, “Birthmarks On The Map” travelling exhibition has been shown in local museums in Novosibirsk region; mutimedia presentations were held in Ural area, in Moscow and Russian NorthWest (Petrozavodsk).

In April 2011, the “Birthmarks” were short-listed by Deutsche Welle Blog Awards, an international competition of blogs and web communities. We were voted number four  in the Best Blog Russian nomination, right behind two blogs of politician Alexey Navalny and national newsmaker

“A birthmark on the Map” is a community of citizen journalists - or, more precisely put, citizen photo-journalists - who document life in provincial Russia. The result of a local project, the portal provides a window into the small cities and smaller villages that have largely been forgotten by Moscow. Birthmark (Rodinki) is a play on words and can mean both “birthmark” and “little home.” (The BOBs – Deutsche Welle Blog Awards)

....And in now we are to be shown in Australia at Head On Photo Festival... ))))

The quiet voice of provincial photo chronicles is becoming increasingly audible... What started as a local project has grown into a comprehensive visual archive of Russian rural life as a whole and even more - a universal&international “territory of humanity.”


Now in our blog community are 47 authors (from the whole Russia + foreigners), emerging and famous ones (among them – World Press Photo and Pulitzer prize-winners: Viktor Zagumennov, Sergey Maximishin, James Hill). List is here
There are two imagery’ flows:
• editor/coordinator’ tape (authors by invitation and-or singles&stories uploaded/sent via email to coordinator initially by professionals and approved by coordinator + of ourse! coordinator own works)))
• tape with stories from “people correspondents” (amateurs’ playground, premoderated by coordinator).
We using for “photo+texts” posts jpegs, 700 pix longest side, on regular basis there are up to 50 images in post (for offline events we requesting hi res files individually).
Also can be included in posts audio materials (for example we using mp3 records of skype-intervews in “Photo-radio” rubric), text attaches and embed video (photofilms and mixed media).

Blog is in Russian so far, will turn into bilingua (Rus/Eng) this autumn.

More words from coordinator...

Since my visit to Perpignyan in 2003 – VISA OUR L’IMAGE – I feel internal need to “show more” and to “speak different”.
There in the fest’ bookstore were only two books showing / speaking of Russia:
“Winterreise” (Luc Delahaye / Magnum ) and “Open wound” (Stanley Green / VU) ..
So – viewers/readers could see only horror and blood, endless mental asylum and noting more.

Partial truth is sort of lie.
Curve mirror do not reflect real face – of someone or of a country…

Month later I presented fotofilm from our Yenissey photo-expedition – simple mosaic of people of Siberian river’ daily life – to advanced intnl audience of cultural managers from European countries. They were saying after – thanks for more undestanging…

May be there are a key words to describe essence of BIRTHMARK project – understanding, sincerity, cordiality. Courage to live and smile. Seeing a joy in simplicity.

List of participants

Александр Кустов / Alexander Kustov
Александр Кузнецов / Alexander Kuznetsov
Александр Сорин / Alexander Sorin
Александр Степаненко / Alexander Stepanenko
Александр Волобуев / Alexander Volobuev
Сергей Максимишин / Sergey Maximishin
Ксения Диодорова / Ksenia Diodorova
Татьяна Плотникова / Tatyana Plotnikova
Игорь Лагунов / Igor Lagunov
Миша Масленников / Misha Maslennikov
Сэм Хэррис / Sam Harris
Валерий Кламм  / Valeriy Klamm

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