NPR logo 200 Words: Emile Dubuisson On Finding Photography In Siberia

100 Words: Photographers Speak

200 Words: Emile Dubuisson On Finding Photography In Siberia

Although I was starting to make documentary films at the time, this was my first experience in still photography. Here, in this surreal setting, on the northern corner of the polar circle, with practically no light in the coldest month of the winter, I began to photograph what I could: a few furtive silhouettes stirred in the dim light around the wind-swept encampments.

Several weeks later we went back to Moscow and I started to process the film. My lack of experience made the development very random. Half of my films were blank, the other half almost translucent. I decided to store the negatives and left photography for nearly 10 years.

It's only after coming to New York to study at the International Center of Photography that I decided to look at the negatives again.

Very quickly, the images from Siberia kept my attention. They signify the beginning of my photographic endeavor and that first step onto which I could build. A random chemical process, an unconsciousness of the image, and a lot of chance came together to create a series that is at once constructed and magical, consistent and surreal. To my now professional eye, these images of Siberia resonate. Through them I am rediscovering a part of my innocence.


Emile Dubuisson is a French photographer, cinematographer and director living between Paris and New York. You can see more of his work in photography on his Web site and a list of his work in film on IMDb.com. We tried to edit his text down to 100 words, but opted to leave it in tact.

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"100 Words" is a series in which photographers describe their work—in their words. What makes them tick? What makes a great photo? Film or digital? Positive or negative? Find out here. Curated by Graham Letorney.

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