Behind the Lens: Portraits of Siberia

Experiencing the culture of incredibly remote communities across the world is a golden opportunity few receive. That’s what made crossing Russia’s Northeast Passage to Siberia’s Uelen so special for Lucia Griggi, Silversea’s director of onboard photography. Residents offered a glimpse into what life is like within close-knit rural settlements here, as Lucia, Silversea’s Director of Onboard Photography, filmed their portraits with intrigue.

“Going to really remote places which I’m fortunate enough to do opens my eyes to not just the world of travel, but to the diversity of how people live and how communities thrive in places that cannot be imagined,” she says.

Vibrant Personalities

When Griggi landed on these shores, she was struck by the vivid buildings and how they differed from the cold, empty landscape. Yet the townsfolk here, she adds, were just as colorful in spirit, as she endeavored to portray the strength of their identity.

“I didn’t really come with any expectations and understanding who these people would be. I kind of just expected wildlife, I didn’t really expect to see culture. I remember in such a stark land, the vibrance of the people and the community that was there. It was very contrasting, which I think was fascinating,” she tells me.

Identity in Uelen

Griggi filmed the people of Uelen taking part in traditional dance and going about their daily life, representing how their skillsets form part of who they are as individuals.

“It was very raw. There was one school and people lived by making things so their identity was based on what their skillsets were and how they could add that to the wider community,” she says. “So one would be baking and creating, one would be fishing and someone else would be teaching. It was just really interesting to see how these people lived.

“For me, understanding this, I needed to document it. Being someone who enjoys taking portraits, these images now always remind me of that time when I went to greet these people in such a farfetched corner of the world.”