Leonid Bergoltsev holding a high quality copy of a black and white picture he made during sixties in Georgia (Caucasus) depicting some men performing a typical dance. A true masterpiece made by a great photographer. Photo: Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza.
Leonid Bergoltsev has been one of the finest Russian photographers since mid fifties, having developed his international professional photojournalistic career through the Soviet Union, China, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Singapore, United States, etc, managing to be at the top of his profession in his country within a few years and then gaining international recognition with his pictures of John Steinbeck, Harrison Salisbury, Simon Signoret, Yuri Gagarin, the Pope John Paul II, Marian Anderson, Mikhail Gorbachov, King Mohamed Zahir Shakh of Afganistan, Dimitri Shostakovich, Boris Yeltsin, Averell Harriman, Lev Landau, Hubert Humphrey, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Van Cliburn, Edvard Sheverdnadze, Mstislav Rostropovich,etc, always understanding that Bergoltsev has also excelled in what he liked most: the capturing of both human beings and locations oozing particular interest for various reasons: outstanding atmospheres, unique colours and contrasts, introspection, emotional responses of people on being photographed, awesome landscapes, monks of different religions during their rites, colourful ancient popular dances, odd urban environments, comic situations, improvised portraits of astounding personalities, and so forth.
Old Russian woman using a classic balance in a Uzbekistan market. © Leonid BergoltsevHis style is probably not easy to define and the subjects he tackles are rather eclectic, but both his photojournalistic assortment of pictures and his artistic photographic yield spanning through around forty years, are of a very high standard, in black and white (where his creative talent maybe reaches his peak, as happens with some monochrome images he made in Georgia, former USSR, during sixties) and colour alike.
Besides, his images production as an active photographer between mid fifties and beginning of nineties, is highly valuable because Bergoltsev has captured in a remarkable way a lot of special traits and contexts inherent to the society, people and politics of the second half of XX Century in different countries and continents, steadily depicting life and humanity with his images, in which he invariably gets rapport and empathy with the subjects.
Chinese peddler in a rural market. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Leonid Bergoltsev is a professional photographer by trade, who belonged to the staff of the Soviet Union magazine, the best of the former USSR, between 1958 and 1972.
From then on, he worked as a freelance photographer and taught Photojournalism at Moscow State University.
He is a Past President of the Moscow Photographers Union, having won around fifty photographic awards through his lifetime.
In the same way, he worked for the RIA Novosti Russian News Agency, since 1961 when it succeded the Sovinformburo (Soviet Information Bureau) and during the following decades, having a lot of contacts and friends with the USSR Journalists Union, the Znaniye Society, the Union of Soviet Societies of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, etc, and steadily being in contact with the APN directors Boris Burkov (1961-1970), Ivan Udaltsov (1970-1975), Lev Tolkunov (1975-1983), Pavel Naumov (1983-1986) and Valentin Falin (1986-1988) until the Novosti Press Agency( APN) was renamed the Information Agency Novosti (IAN) in 1990.
He has held till now fourteen photographic exhibitions with pictures of his own, and has taken part in approximately three hundred in which there were some of his images.
Overcrowded Chinese parking for bicycles. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
On the other hand, Bergoltsev has published five books including images made by him, among which we must highlight: A Russian Moment (Portland House, London, 1991), which offers an insight on the different ethnic groups that make up Russia and their cultural and folklore peculiarities; Instant Russes; and People among People, including a selection of 174 of his best pictures with the title of each one and a specific very interesting caption made by Leonid Bergoltsev thoroughly describing the photographed instants, one by one.
Absent-minded Chinese little boy drinking Coca-Cola. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
One of the most significant achievements in Bergoltsev´s professional career took place when his beloved American illustrated magazine Life (he considers it the historical flagship of real life photography) published on page 69 of its number of March 13, 1970, a black and white photograph he had made in 1965 showing a comical moment in which a Russian civilian and a policeman are pointing with his hands and heads at opposite directions and their bodies appear to form a human cross. This was one of his most famous images, along with an outstanding black and white portrait he made in Moscow in 1959 called "Freckles" (Ginka) depicting a smiling young Russian boy lacking some teeth, and whose face featured a lot of specks, a photographed which catapulted him to the elite of the Russian photography.
Golden Gate in San Francisco. © Leonid Bergoltsev
ARRIVAL AT THE UNITED STATES
Leonid Bergoltsev had been four times in USA making pictures before late eighties, as a Russian photojournalist, specially during sixties (in 1964 he made for instance a colour picture of the businessman Cyrus Eaton) and seventies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.
But in 1987, Leonid Bergoltsev met Don Hamilton, a photographer from Spokane, and they became friends soon.
Hamilton invited Bergoltsev to visit his home in the States, and two years later, in 1989, Bergoltsev went to the city of Spokane (State of Washington, 436 km in the east of Seattle) with his wife Nina and his daughter Olga, taking with him some pictures of his portfolios which he showed in Hamilton´s studio.
© Leonid Bergoltsev
After their first stay in Spokane, the Bergoltsevs came back to Moscow, but Olga Bergoltsev had fallen in love with a man living in Spokane, and Nina and Olga convinced Leonid to move from the Russian capital to Spokane.
This way, the Bergoltsevs fixed their residence in Spokane in 1996, but from the very beginning things were difficult for them, specially for Leonid, who had to sacrifice a lot of things related to him in favor of his wife and daughter´s better future prospects.
Leonid Bergoltsev speaking with Rolf Fricke, Former Director of Marketing Communications of Professional Photography Division at the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, and also Co-founder of the Leica Historical Society of America (1968), Leica Historical Society of the United Kingdom (1969) and Leica Historica of Deutschland (1975), personal friend of Walter Mandler and one of the most significant experts on Leica cameras and lenses in history. He´s also an authority on optics and knew personally Rudolf Kingslake,founder of the Department of Optical Design at Rochester University in 1930, who became Head of the Optical Design Department of Eastman Kodak Company in 1937. Before moving to Rochester, NY, the legendary optician Rudolf Kingslake had been in England during twenties a disciple of the great Alexander Eugen Conrady, who had become Professor of Optical Design in the new Technical Optics Department in 1917 at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London until 1931 and was through his lifetime one of the world top authorities on Applied Optics and Optical Designs, with such an immense knowledge that he often made his own optical instruments to his specifications. Photo: Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza.
Leonid transition from Russia to United States was hard: in the beginning, the language barrier hampered him a great deal and he had to strive after learning English as quick as possible, being well in his sixties, with all the difficulties it meant. He took a lot of English classes and little by little he managed to improve.
A great crowd gathered around an impressive Antonov An-225 freighter, the heaviest aircraft ever made, originally designed between 1984 and 1988 by the USSR Antonov Design Bureu as an strategic airlift transport for the Buran Space Shuttle within the Soviet space program who would substitute the Myasishchev VM-T and bigger than the Locheed C-5 Galaxy, the Boeing 747 large freighter and the Antonov An-124. It is able to take a load of 250,000 kg inside its fuselage and 200,000 kg on top of it. We can see three of the six ZMKB Ivchenko Progress D-18T turbofan engines which make him reach a top speed of 850 km/h (530 miles/h), a remarkable achievement for such a large airship. This plane features a superb quality and reliability of flight, with a range of 15,400 km with maximum fuel and 4,000 km with its full load, being able to transport even locomotives and 150 ton generators, with a service ceiling of 11,000 m. Picture made in Seattle. © Leonid Bergoltsev
On the other hand, cultural differences and daily habits are very different between U.S and Russia, so Leonid Bergoltsev fought hard to adapt. That´s why remembering his life in the same apartment in Moscow during fifity eight years, he often solemnly states with his outstanding sense of humour: ´ A big part of my soul I left in Moscow. I think it´s too late for me to become an American ´.
But presently being 78 years old (he was born in Odessa in 1932), Mr Bergoltsev is glad seeing his daughter happily married with an American man, now with the name of Olga Kamp and also living in Spokane, in the same way as a brother of hers who is an experienced seller of cars.
Anyhow, there was an event which enhanced the knowledge on Bergoltsev inside USA: the extraordinary slideshow that this world class photographer presented during the 34th Annual Meeting of the LHSA in Portland (Oregon) on October 5, 2002, between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m, titled From Russia with Leica, with an assortment of his best pictures which brought about high doses of thrill in every attendant, something that he would repeat in 2008 in Louisville (Kentucky) with another highly successful display of images taken by him in 1987 in China, complemented by a few more photographs shot in the Soviet Union and U.S.A mainly during seventies.
Chinese monk clad in ancient attire. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT AND FILMS USED BY LEONID BERGOLTSEV THROUGH HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER
Bergoltsev admits to be a great lover of Leica, Pentax and Nikon cameras and fixed focal lenses, having used a lot of photographic stuff of those two brands during his working life: he has used Leica M2, M3, M4 and M6 in approximately 40% of the pictures - half of them with Leica M3-, Asahi Pentax reflex (roughly 35%), Nikon reflex (roughly 17%), along with Russian made Kiev and Fed rangefinder cameras (around 5 %), and he also made five pictures with Rolleiflex and Canon cameras.
Though he states that usually Leica lenses are often the best, he deems that a lot of manual focusing Pentax Takumar, Supertakumar and Nikon lenses from sixties, seventies and eighties are also excellent both from a mechanical and optical viewpoint, full-fledged professional photographic tools.
Bicycle with hat parked by the door of a Chinese house. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Vast majority of times he used fixed focal lengths of 35 mm, 50 mm, 75 mm and 180 mm, f/2 being the most widespread maximum aperture, and then f/2.8 and f/1.4.
Likewise, he often states that his favourite lens is the 35 mm f/2, which he deems very good to photograph people when they are not seeing the photographer.
Regarding films and supplies, what Bergoltsev tells dates us back to a time in which it was difficult to get good film and labs in the former Soviet Union, so Russian photographers were usually bound to resort to grey market or contacts they had in other countries to get top-notch film and professional development.
© Leonid Bergoltsev
He remembers that during late fifties and sixties it was common thing to use 300 ISO Russian made black and white cinema film A2 with 35 mm photographic cameras.
Generally speaking, the supplies of black and white Russian made 35 mm film were guaranteed and its quality was between acceptable and good, but 35 mm colour film available in Russia during sixties and seventies was of poor quality, so professional photographers like Bergoltsev had sometimes to buy it in the grey market, mainly Kodak and Fuji 35 mm slides, above all the coveted Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides.
The Alexander Nevsky Bridge in St Petersburg. 1985 © Leonid Bergoltsev
We mustn´t forget that during sixties and seventies, medium format was still widely spread in Russia (even more than 35 mm format in a lot of areas), the black and white photography was with huge difference the most common one, and the cameras and lenses created by Russian designers and engineers like E.V.Soloviev, N.M.Egorov, I. Michoutine, Yuri Soloviev, etc, had as main aim the black and white users which were vast majority inside USSR.
´Kruschev. The Last Appearance´. One of Bergoltsev´s most famous pictures, depicting Nikita Kruschev with other top Soviet politicians of the Politburo just a few days before being ousted from power. 1964 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Anyway, Bergoltsev remembers that when batches of Kodak Tri-X 400 began arriving at Russia, it was very well received and extensively used. He made with it for example a portrait of Gamid Arasly, expert on Oriental History, in Baku (Azerbaijan) in 1973.
CONTACT SHEETS SIGNIFICANCE IN BERGOLTSEV´S CAREER
Leonid Bergoltsev has always had an approach to photography in which striving after capturing the decisive moment and quick shooting has been the raison d´être, to such an extent that he often states that the photographer (specially that one linked to the streeter genre) most times hasn´t got almost time to think. Infused with the passion for photography which has ruled his life, Bergoltsev broaches the subject through his conviction that a real life photographer must not create pictures, but see and catch them, because the images depicting the most representative moments are mainly taken during highly fleeting instants, in split seconds, so there´s very little margin to ponder over, and speed, instinct, anticipation, experience and intuition become key elements.
But by the same token, Leonid Bergoltsev confers great importance to contact sheets as a thorough way to both having the possibility to think after shooting the pictures and as a very useful and accurate way to evaluate a photographer´s production.
It´s important to bear in mind that Bergoltsev belongs to the the last stage of the golden period of photojournalism between thirties and sixties, and though his picture yield was taken mainly between late fifties and eighties, his style as a photojournalist and artist (remarkably, we do find both sides in his photographic yield, in superb colour slides and monochrome alike, including excellent examples of black and white with painstaking darkroom work) is fairly influenced by the legacy of Cartier-Bresson, Chim, Elliot Erwitt, Marc Riboud, Erich Lessing, Werner Bischof, etc, with a clear aim: the fulfilment of Ilse Bing´s principle set forth in 1929 by the Leica Queen when on assignment for Das Illustrierte Blatt: to photograph things which made a picture and depicted representative moments.
And during the aforementioned halcyon of photojournalism, contact sheets were the core to work after pictures were taken and vast majority of professional photographers of the time learned greatly their trade studying them, without forgetting a further decisive aspect: of yore, contact sheets were widely used to choose the best images, something which was usually trusted to very qualified editors for whom contact sheets were vital. Suffice it to say that before turning into a professional photographer, the great Inge Morath was firstly Henri Cartier-Bresson´s editor and that enabled her to acquire a tremendous knowledge and experience on images, something that is nowadays highly missed, because in spite of so many technological breakthroughs, truth is that good editors of pictures are increasingly difficult to find and a very high percentage of the produced images are not worth.
Bergoltsev belongs to this special breed of photographers deft in capturing not only persons and subjects, but also special moments in time, pieces of daily life he manages to turn into extraordinary, greatly following Constantin Manos conceptual schemes in this regard, specially in his colour yield.
PIONEER OF JAZZ PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE USSR
On May 14, 1967, Leonid Bergoltsev went to the Kalevi Sport Hall in Tallinn (Estonia), then belonging to the USSR, to make pictures of a highly important musical event: the Live Concert performed by the American Jazz Charles Lloyd Quartet, which turned into a unique photographic chance, because this musical genre wasn´t then favoured at all by communist authorities but even forbidden.
The concert was a great success, even appearing on front page of the New York Times, and Bergoltsev made an outstanding coverage of it, capturing great b & w images of the saxophonist, tenor and flute Charles Lloyd along with his ensemble workmates Ron McClure (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums) and Keith Jarrett (piano) in different phases of the performance on the stage.
This live album titled Charles Lloyd in the Soviet Union was imbued with thrilling avant-garde biased hard bop whose peak was the 18 minute "Sweet Georgia Bright" streamed by in a series of very small movements that provided lavish solo space for all, without forgetting the top-notch level displayed by Charles Lloyd as tenor player with his commanding and flexible style, stirring up and driving the quartet´s joint approach that reached its climax in the track " Tribal Dance " revealing a top class Coltrane influenced style.
This legendary live recording became quickly a cult classic among jazz connoisseurs all over the world under the label Atlantic, and it had such a deep impact on the Russian population, that thirty years later, in 1997, Charles Lloyd celebrated the 30th Anniversary of that historical concert returning to Tallinn.
A HIGHLY VALUABLE TROVE OF PICTURES
Fortunately, Leonid Bergoltsev was able from mid nineties to take from Moscow to Spokane a high percentage of his thousands and thousands of original black and white negatives and colour slides made through his photojournalistic career, along with his most representative vintage copies.
And it sets up a great visual treasure featuring stunning quality and originality, not only in terms of the artistic and photographic talent and skill he proves once and again, but also regarding his great significant as a character in itself and above all as a direct witness of historical events which were of seminal transcendence during sixties, seventies and eighties, three very important decades to be able to understand the XX Century which is currently a part of history.
Audience during a performance in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). 1984 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Uzbek dance group Liazgi in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). 1983 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Spectator watching a horse race in Turkmenistan. 1985 © Leonid Bergoltsev
His pictures are most times stunning, an actual relish to see because of Bergoltsev´s special ability to capture those magic and fleeting moments which constitute the pith of his photographic production: eclectic and exceedingly interesting images revealing a glimpse of the life in Russia behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War: Soviet political leaders, people of different areas of the USSR like Moscow, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Latvia, etc, at work, performing typical and ancient dances, attending to political meetings and acts of all kind, implementing a wide range of shows on stages, bridges crossed by trams and old fashioned cars like Ladas and GAZ-24-10 Volgas, funeral ceremonies, either multitudes or isolated persons attending to all kind of live events, popular folklore, oil fields, different cultural expressions, colourful and handcrafted clothes, various typical habits, different ethnic groups, etc, capturing very wisely superb colours and gorgeous saturations of them, together with wonderful contrasts, as well as managing to hold sway over the best qualities and directions of light. A treat to watch and a unique chance to go back to past historical periods of the XX Century.
Moscow seagull. © Leonid Bergoltsev
Russian orthodox funeral ceremony in Volokolamsk (Moscow Province). 1982 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Long queues to visit Mao Tse Tung Mausoleum. Beijing. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Without forgetting the other great framework of his lifetime image crop: his amazing pictures made in China during eighties, in a period in which the great Asian nation was very different to what is currently: bicycles everywhere as immensely most usual means of transport, long queues of people visiting Mao Tse Tung mausoleum, monks dressed in their classical attires, young women bearing their children hanging on their backs, people playing cards in the streets, men and women working on the rice fields, women transporting all kind of modern products like Sprite bottles with the traditional stick on the back system, rural hamlets in which the donkey is usual for tilling and conveying a lot of different things, terrace cultivations on the slopes of mountains covered with impressive mist, showy stretches of the Great Wall, old Chinese cuisine in the area of Guangzhou, picturesque details of all kind, traffic police in Beijing, Forbidden City, people having Chinese tea, old pagodas, Chinese parkings with bicycles, makeshift dwellings on river barges, Memorial of Tsun Yat Sen, street sculptures, dawns in great cities, Chinese farmers, sea harbours in coastal towns, scenes of fluvial transport, people making bread in the Chinese way, skylines of cities, etc.
Chinese mother taking his children hanging on her back. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Chinese monks dressed in traditional garments praying in the street. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Chinese young woman using a bicycle as a means of transport. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou ... Bergoltsev´s pictures of China are singular, special, faithfully representing the last stage of daily life in the most populated country on earth before its change to a nation striving after becoming much more industrialized and technologically governed.
I do believe that these photographs of the Great Asian Giant made by Bergolsev mean the last link to the first great Russian photographers who travelled to China and which began their activity around the end of the XIX Century, epitomized by the 200 large format pictures made by A.E. Boyarsky during the expedition led by General Staff Captain Y.A.Sosnovsky during 1874 and 1875, a period in which the negatives were glass plates and had to be developed immediately after exposure.
Chinese woman bearing a heavy load of modern goods - including a box of Sprite bottles - climbing a steep stone stairs with all the items hanging from the stick supported on her shoulders. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
Impressive Chinese misty landscape of terrace cultivations on the slopes of hills. 1987 © Leonid Bergoltsev
As Bergoltsev usually says: ´The current China is not the same country I photographed during eighties any more. What I show in my pictures mostly doesn´t exist any longer´.
BERGOLTSEV´S MEDIUM FORMAT PRODUCTION
Albeit vast majority of Leonid Bergoltsev´s photographic yield encompassig fourty years between mid fifties and beginning of nineties was made with 35 mm cameras and lenses, there is a little percentage of his images which was made with medium format 6 x 6 cm and 6 x 7 cm, which in my standpoint deserves very high accolades because of its quality, creativity, originality and unutterable exoticism, whose core are the traditional dances on stages performed by men and women belonging to different ethnic and cultural people inside different areas of the Soviet Union, among which we must highlight specially three groups:
a) Four 6 x 7 cm medium format colour slides of the series titled Moscow Romen Music and Drama Theatre, made in 1974 in Moscow and masterfully depicting ethnic gypsies clad in typical costumes, both posing in group as ensembles (one of the pictures being really nice, in which he has shot at full aperture and has put the focus on one of the woemn on the stage - who is in the middle of the image - smartly using the very limited depth of field 6 x 7 cm MF is able to deliver at f/2.8, equivalent to roughly f/2 in 35 mm format, and isolating her from the rest of working mates, fostering the blues, reds, oranges and pinks of her costume, which generates a multichromatic atmosphere in synergy with the colours of the out of focus attires of the rest of dancers) and performing dances (the latter being two pictures in which he makes a superb use of the slow shutter speeds, wisely working at the limit and succeeding in transmitting a poweful feeling of motion).
b) Three 6 x 6 cm medium format colour slides made with TLR Rolleiflex camera in the city of Ulan-Ude (capital of the the Soviet Asian Republic of Burjatskaja, near the Baikal Lake and the north frontier of Mongolia) in 1972, in which Bergoltsev manages to capture on a stage with a black background and some lights the movements of the great dancer Bulat Bajayev, making extraordinary pictures conveying motion, thoroughness and athleticism, as well as capturing astounding colours and textures of the typical costumes, both gorgeous reds and refulgent golden ornaments and precious stones used by the dancer in some of his performances and the blues and boots made of fur and his head covered by a thick cap.
Needless to say that Bergoltsev attains to get remarkable facial expressions of the artist clearly indicating that he is doing what he likes most. These three images are masterworks also imbued with psychological approach and a tremendously accurate handheld timing (specially the one in which Bulat Bajayev is making a great jump) with a medium format camera.
On the other hand, these medium format pictures are unique and specially valuable, because they depict an artist belonging to the Buryats, which are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia, making up the most important northernmost Mongol group, usually speaking Russian but having the Mongolian dialect Buryat as mother tongue. And during XX Century (and even nowadays) there was scarce photographic coverage of this Siberian remote area whose roots are Mongol, and it was very unknown even for worlwide fans of Yul Brynner, whose mother Marusya Blagovidova and his grandmother Natalya Iosiphovna Kurkutova had a percentage of Buryat ancestry.
Therefore, Bergoltsev´s MF pictures help to know and better undestand the innermost nature and vivid colours presiding over the daily life, culture and folklore of this Republic of the Russian Far East in the beginning of the seventies of the XX Century.
c) A 6 x 9 cm medium format black and white photograph of Marshals Georgy Zhukov and Ivan Bagramian made in 1966 with a Moskva 5 medium format rangefinder camera (copy of the German Super Ikonta C) with Industar-24 105 mm f/3.5 lens and Kodak Tri-X 400 120 roll film.
´PEOPLE AMONG PEOPLE´
From 2008, a book titled People among People and edited by the world class Leica and Nikon expert Ed Schwartzreich with the collaboration of Julie Kitchell and superbly printed by Edition One Studios in Berkeley (California), containing approximately 170 of Leonid Bergoltsev´s best black and white pictures, reproduced in top-notch quality, the cream of his 40 years professional career as a professional photographer, has opened new horizons regarding the knowledge of this great Russian photographer, who in spite of his huge standard of quality as a photojournalist and artist, and in the same way that happened with the Russian preeminent pianist Lazar Berman (who was greatly unknown in Europe and USA during a high percentage of his lifetime as a world class musician) wasn´t very known in the Western world.
This book has greatly fostered Leonid Bergoltsev position towards the place he deserves as an important photographer master of his craft and direct witness of a period in which both Russia and China remained in secrecy from a photographic viewpoint to great degree, which has also raised the number of his copies bought by connoisseurs and lovers of high quality photography who likewise obtain a big asset: the high historical documentary value of Bergoltsev´s pictures.
On the other hand, People among People - in my viewpoint a highly recommendable acquisition for anyone loving top quality photography, with the added bonus of its great historical and documentary value which will rise more and more with time- features a memoir on his life written by the photographer, who tells a lot of interesting things experienced during his lifetime as a photographer, highlighting the most exciting anecdotes, including assignments in which he had to use up to six different cameras hanging from his body with various lenses and films.
Leonid Bergoltsev during one of the many lectures on photography he has imparted through USA since 1996 till currently. Photo: Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza.
BERGOLTSEV´S PHOTOGRAPHIC LEGACY AND ITS FUTURE
I do believe that the stunning and unique photographic legacy of this great photographer will increasingly raise its value and recognition within time.
Sincerely, I´m persuaded that the exhibitions and slideshows he has already held in USA, along with People Among People extraordinary book (not only because of his images but also thanks to its great captions with explaining texts of the pictures, one by one, made by the author, his life memoir, the minute descriptions he makes of all aspects, including the cameras, lenses and film he used) are the beginning of something that could be really great.
This man had greatly to sacrifice the last stage of his photographic career for the sake of his family, and the people knowing him well know how much he has suffered to adapt to a new world, leaving behind his beloved Moscow and Russia, his native country.
Uzbek dance group Liazgi in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). 1983 © Leonid Bergoltsev
It should be very interesting and probably highly profitable to professionally clean and scan all of his black and white negatives and colour slides with for example Nikon CoolScan 5000 or Nikon Coolscan 9000 boasting 4.8 DMAX, or even better with high end virtual drum scanners like Imacons 848 Flextights for Mac with Dmax of also 4.8, 16 bit colour and able to scan 35 mm original negatives and slides up to 8,000 and 50Mb per minute, fine tuned by an expert to draw all of the negative detail and grey range (with b & w production) and those formidable colours, saturations of them and amazing contrasts Bergoltsev achieves in a very high percentage of his colour yield made with slides.
Uzbek dance group Liazgi in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). 1983 © Leonid Bergoltsev
This way it would be possible to digitize with maximum quality and preserve for future this unique photographic and historical legacy, with the added possibility of holding a lot of great photographic exhibitions both with black and white and colour top-notch enlargements on first class photographic papers - including baryta ones- who would undoubtedly bring about high expectation and gather high figures of attendees relishing the coming back to a fascinating time of yore, already past, but that will be in the future collective memory of some generations ahead.
And the current increasingly availability of Blu-ray with its high definition of 1920 x 1080 and its great resistance to scratches, dust and dirt, would allow the complementary choice of making great audiovisual productions with the scanned black and white negatives and colour slides that make up the base of Bergoltsev´s historical pictures, which could be seen in all of its splendour on LCD and Plasma players with HDMI 1.3 connectors and Full HD Devices, trying to achieve comparable aims (though now with the advantage of the gorgeous photographic quality delivered by the Blu-ray) to the ones implemented by Marco Bischof with his CD-ROM Werner Bischof: Life and Work of a Photographer 1916-1954, made in 2005, including more than a thousand images of his father, the great Swiss photographer Werner Bischof, and through which he attained to brilliantly show his life and career.
I think that both Leonid Bergoltsev´s category as a photographer and his stature as a human being would well deserve it. And I´ve got no doubt that it would be highly profitable.
Copyright text and indicated photos: Jose Manuel Serrano Esparza. LHSA.