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Our latest feature is from film photographer Taylor Stoker. Taylor captured the beauty and soul of Eastern Europe on 35mm film as he traveled from city to city over a 4 month visit. Here is more from Taylor about his time in Eastern Europe…
“You can get out of any difficult situation if you do not forget that you do not live with the body, but with the soul, if you remember that you have something stronger than anything in the world.” – Leo Tolstoy
From the strikingly colorful domes of Russia to the sprawling wheat fields of Ukraine, I have always felt a special affinity for Eastern European culture, history, and art. While studying Russian during university, I found myself on a 4-month internship based out of Riga, Latvia. A few of my peers were film photography enthusiasts, and, while exploring one of the many junk markets riddled across the post-Soviet bloc, they encouraged me to purchase an old beat up Kiev 4. I soon returned to purchase a 1980 Moscow Olympics special edition Zenit TTL. It was through the lens of these two cameras that I came to understand the words of Tolstoy when he said that “you do not live with the body, but with the soul.”
I lugged those old Soviet cameras all over Eastern Europe on weekend jaunts to Berlin, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Russia, and Latvia. I found joy in the rich Eastern European traditions and culture. I went through a spiritual rebirth amongst the Russian Orthodox temples and places of pilgrimage. I felt a special reverence at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. I truly came to know my soul as I felt the peaceful tranquility in the sprawling hills of Poland and Lithuania. I will forever cherish the countless rolls of 35mm film that taught me to look from the soul rather than with my eyes.