Hardly there could be found places where he has not been to: deserts of Central Asia, mountains of the Caucasus and Siberia, the North of Russia, the Urals and the Far East. He was floating down the cataracted rivers of the Sayan Mountains, peddling his canoe in Karelia, climbing the hills and volcanoes of Kuril Islands and Kamchatka… His name is Vadim Gippenreiter.
His big camera device has always been with him. In order we could enjoy the beauty of Russia that we do not notice at times, even if we are lucky to find ourselves in the same places, he has been carrying three if not more dozens of kilograms of photographic equipment, including a photofilm reserve – a dicker or two of 13×18 slides.
A digital camera, even the best one, is much lighter today. And it provides quality… but…
Even the most ultra-modern digital camera cannot see that very Valley of Geysers. It does not exist anymore. It has remained only thanks to Gippenreiter. And the famous “Large fissure eruption of Tolbachinsky”. And a lot of other events and phenomena making the beauty and grandeur of Russia. Almost unreal – some shots seem to be absolutely extraterrestrial. However Gipper has been photographing only in the USSR. He is asserted to be one of the founders of the Russian photo-landscape school.
Fifty thousands of photo slides are in a personal archive of a man who never happened to have a record of service.
It’s damn hard to interview Gippenreiter. Torture. A couple of words in a minute. Each hits the mark, sounds like he drives a pile. It’s probably the only person who can tell not more than five words at the opening of his own exhibition: “Hm, perhaps I have nothing to say”… And get an ovation because his photos say everything instead of him.
Day and night he can wait for photogenic snowstorm to take Kizhi; keeping watch over a necessary mode light for a solid week to open the shutter of his “box” for the required half a second.
Incidentally he is not only a photographer. He is the first USSR champion in downhill skiing. That championship was in 1937. He was the first to ski down Elbrus top to “the Shelter of the Eleven”. Thus, for a reason, downhill skiers consider him to be their patriarch too.