Her passion for photography, a skill she taught herself, started during her studies at an architectural academy. After two years working as an architect she quit her job and cycled with Gael de Cevoisier from Toulouse to Vladivostok and back again: 30,000 kilometres, 26 countries, 1,004 days of intense and challenging experiences. This journey made up her mind to become a photographer.
Photography allows Elena to delve into the daily life of communities and to investigate the effects of environmental, political and economic change. Her work tries to visualise the impact of human activity, ways of adapting to changing circumstances and the great diversity of lifestyles.
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Russia’s Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, a vast northern region twice the size of Japan but with a population of just over half a million, is the traditional grazing area of the Nenets, semi-nomadic reindeer herders who have been breeding their herds here for hundreds of years.
Like many of the cities that were built and populated against all odds in the days of the Soviet Union’s breakneck development of the 1930s and 40s, Norilsk doubled up as a prison camp, part of the vast network of forced labour colonies that became an indispensable element of Soviet economic planning.