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Courtesy of 

Natalya Saprunova

Ann Lesley BarTur Award

Natalya Saprunova

Judges Choice

Natalya Saprunova, born in the arctic region of Russia in Murmansk, is a freelance documentary photographer based in Paris. In Russia, she worked as a photographer for a daily newspaper, "The Messenger of Murmansk" during her studies to become a french teacher. She arrived in France in 2008, studied and worked in Marketing in Paris, and became a French citizen. At the end of 2016, she abandoned her permanent contract to return to photography. Then she finally studied Documentary photojournalism at the Ecole des Métiers de l’Information in Paris. Natalya now teaches photography at Graine de Photographe school in Paris and does documentary reportages. She is a member of the french photo agency - Zeppelin. Natalya was a finalist or prize-winner in various competitions. Her topics are the transformation of societies, identity, youth, spirituality and femininity.

A future for russian Saami people

Lovozero, Krasnoshchelye, Chalmny-varre in Russia at the Kola Peninsula, Murmansk region


There is no future without our children. Children are our future, and they are our carriers of living memories. Thanks to them, knowledge can be transmitted like a torch and thus travel through time and illuminate the future. A more harmonious future between man and nature. A future where a new relationship to the world can be imagined.

Despite her colored hair and her smartphone in her pocket, an 11-year-old little girl Uliana, shows some characteristic traits of her ethnic minority in the Extreme North region of Russia, the Sámi people. She loves being outdoors, fishing, eating reindeer meat with her bare hands, and doing handicrafts and embroidery. These activities are, for her, the place where she forms the learning of an inherited memory from her nomadic ancestors. Through these children's games is also transmitted the art of being resourceful.

Uliana comes from a long line of reindeer herders whose traditions almost disappeared due to sedentarization by the Soviets in the 1920s. Gathered in the main sámi village - Lovozero, located in the hinterland of Murmansk city, was considered a reserve. Other villages were also built on the sámi lands to gather reindeer herders. Settled to work in kolkhozes, they no longer had the right to be Sámis: the practice of the language and the wearing of the traditional costume were prohibited.

Uliana lives nowadays with some 1,500 people in Lovozero, where wooden huts stand next to prefabricated concrete buildings. In her daily life, sometimes she takes a vacation at her grandmother's in a tiny village with just 400 inhabitants. Or she visits an old woman who is the only one still living in a hamlet with four houses without electricity or running water. Still a little of the old world but also a little of the new one. And in it, a strong, hands-on, cheerful girl who can withstand freezing cold as well as swarms of mosquitoes.

Little by little, this living environment, this deep link with nature, will join Uliana's interior landscapes. The 11-year-old girl is thus called to become a memory for her people. A memory that can be reborn at any time, like these engraved pictograms that Uliana makes, reappear by throwing a little water on a stone. A memory that looks to the future, refreshed by the hands of a child.

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