The Small Questions
of the World
Deserve Witnesses

Emil Gataullin


This photograph called "David" was taken in 2012 in Moscow. This is from a series I was photographing for the “The museum, a photographer’s view” exhibition dedicated to the centennial of the Pushkin Museum of Arts. I’ve spent several days wandering the halls of the museum with my camera. I was focusing on the exhibits, the people around them and their relationships. I have almost no images where people are posing for me.

I prefer to be quiet, discreet, not getting involved in the situation, watching and waiting for the right moment. It is hard to walk by Michelangelo's David and not get captivated by it. I was looking for an interesting perspective on this, so I chose to shoot from high up, from the stairs behind the statue. From all the images I took from this spot, I chose this one – a mother discussing something with her daughter. My main interest lies in the lives of simple people; the relationships they have with each other, and to the place where they live.

I never know where I’m going to find an interesting motif for a photo: I don’t have an advance plan; there’s no particular picture that I want to find. For me, the process of photography is both a quest for moments that show the beauty of daily life and a search for the means that can express it to the viewer.

The Small Questions of the World Deserve Witnesses

Photograph what touches you, be honest and critical to yourself.
Emil Gataullin

I was born in 1972 in Yoshkar-Ola, Russia. I’m an artist by education, I studied at the Kazan Art School and Surikov Moscow State Institute of Art. My first camera was a gift from my uncle, which sparked my interest in photography, I was 16. At that time my main focus was painting. After graduating in 1999, I started working freelance, painting interior murals for private.

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But I still needed to express myself, and my interest in photography grew each day. In the early 2000’s, photography became an integral part of my life and I started dedicating all of my free time. A big influence was meeting Alexander Lapin (1945-2012) with whom I studied composition in photography, visual perception – topics that captivated me- during a year. I was looking for what and how to photograph and where to go next. And thus started a very important part of my life with photography as my main focus. I like photography for the very reason that it isn’t like painting. There are things in photography that are inaccessible for painting: faithfully documenting reality, the importance of chance, the ability to capture a moment.

Capture the moment

I do not know what makes me raise the camera and take a shot at one specific moment and not the other. I react to the situation, most of the time on intuition, it’s like a feeling I get. I use a Leica M7 film camera and two digital Leica cameras – M10 and Q.