Photographing Those Who Have Never Had Their Photo Taken, a Journey to Siberia


Twice, once in 2011 and once earlier this very year, photographer Sasha Leahovcenco packed his bags and travelled to the ends of the Earth to bring photography to those who have never had their photos taken. As you might imagine, the experience left Leahovcenco a changed man, and when you look through the photos he came back with, you begin to understand why.

Some of you might look at these photos and say this is old news, and you’d be right. But it’s news we somehow managed to miss when it got big in 2011 and then again in February of this year, and we feel like it’s possible some of you missed it too.

Both trips into the heart of Siberia had two purposes: the first was to give the tribes along the way “warm clothes, shoes, gifts, and simply show them grace and love.” The second was to take professional photographs and print them right there, which usually meant handing people the one and only photo they have ever owned of themselves.

Here’s a look at some of the photos Leahovcenco captured on his first trip:



















Leahovcenco also put together a behind the scenes video after coming back from his trip in 2011. It’s packed full of great footage that shows some of what they come across at the end of the Earth:

To learn more about the trip or see more of Leahovcenco’s work — Siberian and otherwise — head over to his website by clicking here.

(via Reddit via Photojojo)

Image credits: Photographs by Sasha Leahovcenco and used with permission.

  • Tyler Magee


  • Lisa

    that looks like he copies Joey L’s style and approach.

  • mat

    because you think `joey invented social photography portraits with flash?

  • Lisa

    because he did just the same thing before this guy and he is the first one that comes to my mind: he went to the Omo valley, with a large soft box, then he brought them printed pictures, then he raised money for a bigger project.

  • chillipix

    he’s good, Joey L is good, neither are original both are valid worthwhile and inspiring.

  • Sasha Leahovcenco


    Joey and I are very close friends. And there was no intention to copy/repeat his project.
    I’ve been doing similar project since I found out about Help-Portrait, and Jeremy Cowart, who started the movement of giving back with the simple idea of a photograph.
    And I really wish you (assuming you are photographer) to try the same, and give back with the talent you’ve been given. And when you do, please share your experiece. It’s the biggest reward you can get.


  • Sasha Leahovcenco

    thank you.

  • Lisa

    Thanks for your message, Sasha, by no means I try to eliminate the importance of your work by comparing it to someone else’s, but Joey’s book is the one I read recently and that was the first association I had!
    Your pics are very cool, and I wondered how terribly cold it was there and tried to imagine how they live there. It is great you draw attention to them and I wish you further success with the project!


  • Carl Meyer

    Don’t Russia have a compulsory identity card with photo? Maybe the kids don’t have a photo of themselves but adults need some type of document with photo to proof their identity for all kind of legal paperwork.

    Those people may herd reindeers in the polar circle under all kinds of hardships but they aren’t a bunch of illiterate nomads with no sense of modernity like the ones found in other parts of the world.

  • Scott M

    Nicely done. What a crazy time our developed society is in, when watching a video like this makes me think about moving to the frozen tundra to live in a reindeer hide hut.

  • Marin

    you should check this guy on the same theme

  • Marin

    … and this video :)

  • Ralph Hightower

    Oh, look! Some of them are squinching!

  • greenarcher02

    Do they have one for everyone? Maybe there are still groups of people who doesn’t want to? Not sure about the whole system in Russia and if it covers literally everybody. Doesn’t mean they’re illiterate, though. Just not subscribing to every modern way. I’m not entirely surprised. I recently read an article about bride kidnapping in Kazakhstan.

  • Fernando Callo

    So polite

  • Fernando Callo

    The music is from Sigur Rós? because it made me cry as usual

  • Sasha Leahovcenco

    Sigur Ros it is.

  • Barb

    Great stuff, think I would have liked to see more ‘reactions’ to the pictures he took of all the people who have never seen themselves though

  • Ricardo Vaz

    Lol, awesome!

  • SaveTheWorldGetTheGirl

    Anyone get a load of this guy’s bio?

    “Sasha Leahovcenco is a photographer. He doesn’t work as a photographer and isn’t studying to be one. Sasha is a photographer.”

    Decent photos, but what a massive twat…

  • MS

    Decent yes, but if you are going to photograph people that have never been photographed in a vast wilderness…..keep the power lines out of the shot!
    And I dunno, the flash doesn’t do anything for me.

  • Black Light Shoots

    I see nothing wrong with that, intentional or not. It’s a different community and a different project altogether.

  • Panchoskywalker

    Nice shots and simple equipment, I like! Would also love to know who’s music it is.