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Facing East: Journeys through 21st-Century Russia

A travelogue by Zoe Zagars — featuring photography by swchps

Delivering a patchwork portrait of modern Russia, Facing East illuminates a frozen foreign world – imbued with mystery, presented by the news as menacing and heartless – and reveals its untamed, vibrant human spirit.

Facing East is a photographic travelogue that follows along with Zoe, an average young American, during her first journey through Russia, from March to June 2019. The book is filled with portraits, landscapes, and glimpses of towns and communities that most people have never seen. From world-famous Saint Petersburg and Moscow, to remote villages alongside the Volga river and the Ural mountains, Zoe's four-month-long journey extended through 1,500 miles of train tracks, trails and rivers – and back!

In this first volume of the series Journeys through 21st‑Century Russia, Zoe draws back for herself the iron curtain, as she discovers ordinary people and learns how they live. She meets people in their homes and on the streets; in remote rural areas and busy urban centers; in transit, at work, play, or prayer – revealing the fleeting moments that give texture and meaning to life. Throughout, Zoe is amazed by what she discovers.

In this collaboration, comprising Zoe Zagars' narrative non-fiction and journalistic photography by swchps, text and image combine to tell a unique and salient story. Those interested in journalistic photography of former Soviet states; those curious about Russian culture, or about real-life stories that the media often overlooks; and those who revel in the warmth and generosity of the human spirit... all will marvel at this modern portrayal of Russia and its people.

Facing East should be ready for release in 2022 (Zoe's travel blog) and 2023 (print editions).

An elder Russian woman in elegant winter clothes, taking a joyride on a carousel. Photograph by swchps

Joyride
From the photo gallery Facing East : In Motion by swchps

Zdravstvuyte!
From the photo gallery Facing East : Up Close by swchps

May the Force...
From the photo gallery Facing East : Up Close by swchps

Stand alone
From the photo gallery Facing East : Silhouettes by swchps

Swing
From the photo gallery Facing East : In Motion by swchps

Feeding the ducks
From the photo gallery Facing East : Silhouettes by swchps

Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa
From the photo gallery Facing East : Silhouettes by swchps