A stringer’s life

Photo by Eduard Kornienko, photographer.ru

Photo by Eduard Kornienko, photographer.ru

While researching images for the June issue of Russia Now, photo editors came across a compelling image of an American adoptive family with their new daughter in Moscow. The editors soon discovered that the anonymous photo was the work of acclaimed Russian photographer Dmitry Chebotayev, who took this intimate photo of Cathy Taylor and Greg Farrell, and their daughter Irina.

It was one of the last photos Chebotayev ever took.

He died two years ago last month. He was killed along with six American soldiers in a landmine explosion northeast of Baghdad on assignment for Russian Newsweek in Iraq. Russia Now's editors felt it was serendipitous to find his anonymous photo in a Russian image bank and decided to celebrate his life and career. He was well-known among his peers for his bravery as a "stringer" in the world's conflict zones; he traveled without hazard pay, security guards or the promise of a pension.

Not long after this joyous photo session with new parents in Moscow, Chebotayev took off for Baghdad, Taylor recalled. "It's great to see his work live on," she said.

Dmitry Chebotayev was born January 20, 1978 in Moscow, but he spent his early years in Angola (Luanda), where his parents were on an overseas assignment with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union. He went on to live in Laos and Bangladesh.

In 1985, he entered Secondary School No 254 in Moscow, and in 1995 he graduated from Rideau High School in Ottawa (Canada). Later that same year he began studies at Carleton University, but left after a year when his parents’ foreign assignment ended.

In 1996, he entered the Moscow State Technological University. He graduated in 2001 with a degree in Economics, majoring in Innovative Management.

While at the university, he became actively involved in extreme snowboarding and was nicknamed “the Canadian” in his circle of friends.

He later undertook graduate studies in the department of social and labour relations at the Russian Social Humanitarian Academy in Moscow.

Starting in January 2001, he worked for the Sport Against Drugs foundation, organizing competitions in extreme snowboarding and cycling. During those years he listed his interests as: books, sports, sports photography, and sports journalism.”

In Fall 2003, he suffered a spinal injury and was unable to continue his participation in extreme sports. In order to continue travelling and to keep up his relationships in the world of extreme sport he decided to get involved in sports photography.

He soon realized, however, that that was too narrow a specialization, and in 2004, Chebotayev took his first job as a professional photojournalist, working for the PhotoXpress agency and soon afterwards for the European Press Agency (EPA).

While working for EPA as a “stringer” he travelled several times to North Ossetia, Chechnya and Abkhazia. In 2005, Chebotayev began doing shoots for Russian Newsweek magazine, and in 2006 he also worked for World Picture Network (WPN).

While on vacation in Syria in Fall 2006, he crossed over into Lebanon with his girlfriend Natalya Kolesnikova (now a photographer with AFP) and photographed the military events in Beirut for WPN.

In March 2007, Dmitry Chebotayev was accredited in Iraq for Russian Newsweek and flew to Baghdad. Some of the conditions of working in Iraq made things difficult for journalists and photographers, but these were due to the security measures of the military coalition in Iraq. However, all this meant they had to wait around more than actually work.

In May 2007 Dmitry told his friends that he had an opportunity to travel from Iraq into Afghanistan. But this plan was not to be.

On May 6, 2007 he died with six American soldiers in a landmine explosion in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad. He was buried in Moscow.

Selected works by Dmitry Chebotayev.

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