The Russian Diet


How do you photograph a feeling like hunger? Photographer Fedor Telkov uses minimalism and irony. His new photo series, "Product Set", bares the precarity of subsistence in Russia, where one in five live in poverty.

With the help of his university catering department and his colleague Belohonov, Telkov photographed a series of government-recommended foods in daily affordable quantities. The  25 resulting images (the full set can be seen in Colors Lab) are accompanied by food prices derived from statistics released by the Russian Institute of Socio-Economic Problems of Population and the Russian Ministry of Labour.


400,000 people currently subsist below the poverty line in Ekaterinaburg, Russia. In 2011, the local government established its "living wage" at 5946 rubles (152,75€) per person. This wage is calculated on the basis of necessary monthly expenses: for example, a month's worth of groceries is priced at 2295 rubles, or 58,96€.

Based on official estimates of food consumption, the wage is sufficient for  basic survival: food and shelter. But Telkov contends that statistics based on food-per-year are misleading, and that only dividing the yearly supply into 365 individual days shows how lean a minimum-wage life really is. So he did the math. What do you think of Telkov's portions?


Fedor Telkov is a photographer and artist based in Ekaterinaburg. He is a member of the Union of Photo Artists of Russia. Personal exhibitions: “Hidden” (“Window” Gallery in Chelyabinsk, 2009),  “Windows” (Galerie 4 in Cheb, Czechia), “Small Stories” (“House of Metenkova”, Ekaterinburg).

See the full photo essay in the Lab.