Borovsk is a small town with a long history. Noble merchants and traders lived here, it's a center of the Russian Old Believers community. Locals call their town - an open-air museum.

The request from my new students was - to learn project work skills through photography. So that children can create and edit coherent photo stories about their city.

In other words, my task was to hand over the visual research tools to the guys. To make it happen, the young authors had to become the heroes of their first story and improve their relationships with the town. And we'll do it in the Russian winter conditions: four hours of daylight and sub-zero temperatures.

LOCATION: Borovsk, Russia
PARTICIPANTS: girls and boys, 12-16 years old
DURATION: 5 days
COOPERATION: "Center for Creative Development", photo studio Balance, head Olga Grishko


The guys said that they are very interested in the history of their city. But when it comes to their day-to-day life here, teenagers feel a little alienated. In their opinion, the city is the zone for adults, and they cannot influence its lifestyle.

Most often, it is the lack of involvement in the life of the city that prevents the new generation from establishing a connection with the place. Their opinion is rarely considered when adults make important decisions. And their passion for photography is perceived as a strange "exotic", not applicable to study or to everyday life.

We found out that sometimes guys feel like "aliens" in their city. First, we need to overcome this particular barrier and release the accumulated unpleasant emotions. So we came up with an idea for our photo project.

New rituals

The photo story will have two protagonists - the city and the youth. Our task was to combine several elements: a cityscape and staged portraits. We need to illustrate the emotion we found out during our first meeting.

At the same time, we were creating our own rituals. We have made the local WWII  memorial our daily meeting place. Every day at the same time before filming we were gathering around the eternal fire and discussing routes of today. Here we met the new protagonists of the shoot and got to know each other. Creating such a ritual during the educational process can draw the attention of teens to important places in the city in a new way.


The name of our project is "Aliens". We came up with a script-metaphor where teenagers for the first time enter an unknown city and go to delve into it. They inspect their surroundings and find themselves in different situations. This mood should be reflected in the visual solution of the entire series.
Young photographers learned to be in the role of a production director and to work with non-actor characters in the frame. These are the skills that can be used for communication in different social environments.


We chose the places for shooting where the hero's encounter "one-on-one with the town" would be obvious. We need general shots and a lot of space in the frame.
Work in the format of visual research should help the teens to express their attitude to their current role in the life of this city.

Photography in action

Experiencing negative emotions through photography can be the first step towards dialogue. The guys created a visual pattern of their frustration through staging and capturing  images. This makes it possible to separate yourself from the emotion and look at it from the outside.

At the same time, teamwork on a project is a great way to grow a community of like-minded people. This is how classmates and friends invited to the shooting see a professionally built process, participate in it and begin to better understand the essence of the young authors' hobby.


According to the plot and the final shots, the "aliens" get together again after visiting the city. To make their common decision to stay here or to go to look for their place somewhere else. The authors of the project left the open final as a possibility of choice for themselves and their peers.

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