Russia is the biggest country in the world. When most people think of it, what comes to mind is the Kremlin, colorful domed churches, and maybe some snow and bears.
This unusual advertising campaign challenges those typical views, showing sides of Russia not often seen even by Russians themselves. The brand (the Russian PayPal) decided against promoting a product or a service, and wanted to simply showcase their love for their country.
They went and visited five of their customers who live in far-off (sometimes extremely far-off) places, creating an amazingly beautiful photo and video project documenting the lives of ordinary Russians and how these have changed by simple connection to the Internet.
Check out the photos below and videos on YouTube to see the lives of ordinary Russians and the amazing Russian nature.
All photos were taken by a Russian photographer Mikhail Mordasov and the video was produced by Hype Produsction company together with Grayling Russia.
Baikal is the world’s largest freshwater lake. Gennady Khorunzhy lives about four hours drive from it, far in the mountains of Buryatia
In fact he lives so far away that it takes more than a day to get to his village – Novy Uoyan – from any major city. He likes it that way, saying that the nature there is still untouched and the water is still clean enough to drink
Gennady, 63 years old, leads a surprisingly active lifestyle. He enjoys dancing, archery, boating, and many other sports. His favorite is cycling
There are no other dancers in his village – his former dancing partner now feels too old to dance – and he has to practice alone. That’s the only downside he can name of living this far away from civilization
His son taught him how to use the internet. Both Gennady and his wife now actively use Skype to communicate with the rest of the world. He also frequently buys stuff for his hobbies online – he can’t get anything where he lives
Gennady says that his personal motto is to never stop. He wants to keep learning and doing something new – and as long as he does it he does not feel his age
Alexander is a pensioner who decided to leave life in a big city to buy a farm in a small village of Pervyi Rossoshinsky
He has a small house, a garden and some farm animals. He says that he feels independent now – he can supply all the food he needs for himself and his family
Alexander’s hobby is woodcutting with a fretsaw. He first saw this craft as a young man and was fascinated by it – the cut wood looked like a delicate lace
Alexander runs a small online store where he sells his own fretsaw patterns. His customers include foreigners – and many contact him directly, so he has made a lot of friends among the hobbyists
One day the craftsman whose works had many years ago inspired him to take up this hobby had contacted him through the website. They are now friends
Alexander often gets asked whether he’d like to leave his farm and go back to the city. He says he never thinks about that – he’s just too happy to live where he does
Diana lives on the island of Sakhalin that is right next to Japan. She came here all the way from Kiev and at first was shocked – she remembers thinking that there is nothing but nature on the island, no life at all
She used to be a lawyer, but one day decided to quit her job to follow her true passion – jewelry making. She remembers feeling confident – she liked making jewelry, she was good at it and felt that she would be able to earn a living that way
Diana loves collecting stones for her craft. Some of the most exotic ones she orders from places such as South Africa. Her workshop is filled with thousands of stones from all around the world
Three years later Diana has clients from all over the world – from Russia to US and South Korea. She no longer feels isolated on Sakhalin
Diana sells her jewelry through her Instagram, because she feels that there she offers more than just goods – she offers people her lifestyle. She travels around Sakhalin a lot, because it makes her feel inspired
Roman Kozhakov is a young man with a rather unusual hobby for his village of Yablonevsky in Republic of Adygeya. He spends his free time restoring a vintage Ford Capri 1969
Roman, a classic car fan, wanted his first car to be special. It was impossible to find the Ford Capri in its original state in Russia, so he decided to build his own from scratch
He orders parts from Britain (that’s were the Ford was assembled back in the 60s) and has friends help out with the car. He didn’t know anything about repairing cars beforehand, so YouTube was a big help
To fund the restoration, Roman works as a photo editor. He says that to buy the car seats, he once had to edit 40 000 pictures of sofas for a local furniture store. His dream is to finish his car and drive it around the mountains nearby
In Russia’s northern coast, Dalnye Zelentsy village is practically abandoned, but there is a military base nearby and people still live there. It’s also sometimes visited by tourists and divers – the views are just too amazing there
Sergey Valchenko is a military man who lives in this village. He is stationed there with his family
It’s 45 kilometers to the nearest village with a store and a post office, and the closest bank is four hours away. But they do have an internet connection
His family’s favorite pastime is sport. Sergey ordered stuff for their small gym online and now both he and his wife spend a lot time there. They plan to introduce their son to the healthy lifestyle as he gets older
Sergey says that he likes living in Zelentsy. His personal belief is that man should live as close as possible to nature. He says he does not feel disconnected from anything – it’s the people in the cities who are disconnected from the natural state