Lilya and Pasha, 2008 © Irina Popova
In 2008, Irina Popova was on assignment looking for a story about 'feelings.' "I met Pasha and Lilya the day after getting the assignment for the project. You could say that I got lucky. Last year I shot a similar couple that kept their child in the basement."
This controversial photostory has now been published as a book by the Dostoevsky Photography Society. Since I don't have my copy as of writing, here's the blurb from the preface.
"This fascinating book tells the story of Irina Popova's stay with a family of drug-users in St. Petersburg, Russia. The photostory - focusing on a small child living in shocking family circumstances - has provoked an explosion of criticism on the Internet, directed towards the parents as well as at the photographer. The book reveals the documentary evidence during the development of the story, including the previously unpublished photos from the archives of the photographer herself and the characters, the web pages of blogs with comments, the private letters and the diaries. It attempts to analyze the consequences of the photographer's actions and the degree of responsibility of the photographer. The multivocal storytelling in the book forms the screenplay for a real-life drama. This is the first time this frequently discussed topic of the supposed responsibility of documentary photographers has been analyzed so consistently and comprehensively in book form. This book is therefore more than simply a documentary photo book depicting the deplorable situation of a drug-addict family - it is an essential document dealing with the question all documentary photographers may be confronted with at some time in their careers: can I continue working or should I stop and try to help solve the problem I am witness to?"
Read an extensive article in The Guardian about what happened when, having been shown in a well-received exhibition offline, the photographs subsequently hit the internet.