I have heard that many photographers have tried to imitate this image since I took it 20 years ago. I believe that if you lined up their images with this one and asked someone to pick the best, mine wouldn't get the top prize, it might even be judged to be the worst.
My father was born in
The film I used, Kodachrome 200 ASA, produced high contrast and reproduced reds very well, which helped. I usually take a lot of shots, but this time I managed to take just three frames; in the second he closed his eyes and he moved his head away in the third. I felt that the rooster was bored of me being there, and I felt some empathy for the captive bird. When I look at it now, the stark contrast between light and dark makes it look like a photomontage. The rooster's head looks like it has been stuck on to another picture.
When I first started out as a photojournalist, I was working as a member of the camera crew at Mosfilm [
When we did eventually meet, I was surprised when he told me that he didn't actually like my work; that he thought that the work of Cartier-Bresson was real photography - photojournalism, capturing the moment. I had never heard of Cartier-Bresson; he wasn't known in the USSR. Tarkovsky advised me that we lived in a closed society, but that things would change soon and that we needed photojournalists, not landscape photographers. I took his advice, changed direction and went out with my Zorki camera. People in the
High point: 'Being nominated to join Magnum, I sometimes wonder what people would think of my work if I wasn't a member.'
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