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Leningrad, USSR, 1974 | Masha Ivashintsova with her lover, Photographer Boris Smelov

In 1974, Masha and Boris met and fell in love. They met on a train from Moscow to Leningrad. At the time, my mother was moving back to Moscow to reunite with my father (and me) after several years of bitter separation. She was actually going to Leningrad to pick up her things, but these plans changed after the chance encounter with Boris. The photograph was taken in the apartment of Masha's mother in Leningrad/Saint-Petersburg where I also spent quite some time growing up. Boris is holding one of the most famous Leica camera models of the 1960s. Boris lived a very humble life, often struggling with money. Nevertheless, he saved devoutly for the best equipment. Later, he gave this Leica to Masha as a present. A present she used a lot in the following years.