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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Person

MT
Tamara Chechik, 55, photo booth operator:

I work 12 hours a day, five days a week. My wage is 355 rubles a day. My favorite metro station to work in is Otradnoye -- I've worked there four years. The people are very nice and I have regular clients. I know what suits people, how to photograph them: You have to take into account a person's character. Here [Savyolovskaya], crowds of people pass, but they don't trust one another.

"If a person comes and says they never get good photos, I'll refuse them -- I'll tell them the machine's broken. Because they won't like any photos they get.

"I was born in 1951, a hard time. In Moscow there was lots of food, but in the Moscow region... My mother had a lot of children. Five died, five survived. You understand -- there was starvation, and it's no secret that we were from a repressed family. My father spent three years in German captivity in a Latvian village, and after that it was hard to find work.

"I wanted to be a traveler. I wanted to finish a course in English and travel. But it was expensive, and so I did a draughtsmanship course. I worked at the General Staff Academy, the Academy of Chemical Defense, the Frunze Academy. We drew cities, we showed where planes, tanks and weapons were. The General Staff Academy wanted me to become a boss, but you had to join the Party, and I didn't want to after what happened to us.

"Then for five years I was a printer at an experimental institute, a hydrometeorological bureau that was making experimental spaceships for dogs. After that, I passed from one job to another. My mother was ill.

"I've worked here five years. It's monotonous. But I'm at an age that if I leave, it will be very difficult to find new work. I'd prefer to be a free photographer. Earlier I took my own photographs, of friends, family, even nature. Everywhere I went, I took photos: Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and as far as the Urals.

"You could say that I'm homeless because of a deceiving investor. ... My dream is to receive a flat. I rent a room in Dolgoprudny.

"Personally, I don't like to be photographed. I'm not photogenic. There were rare situations when I had good photos, but they were done professionally."