Award-winning, Malta-based Russian photographer Daria Troitskaia celebrates the uniqueness of Malta’s streets with a series of photographs in her book, Maltese Exposures. Paula Fleri-Soler finds out more.

Born in St Petersburg, Daria Troitskaia did not intend to pursue a career in photography. But with an arts education background, a stint as a painter and a career in web design, working with visuals has clearly come naturally to her.  

“There was a point when I watched other photographers work with digital cameras and I was tempted to try my hand at photography,” Troitskaia explains of her foray into the art.

Żejtun (2020)Żejtun (2020)

“Yet, it seemed to me that I would learn much more by shooting with an analogue camera. While now I mainly use digital cameras, I shoot with film occasionally and my favourite cameras are the Leica M7 and Mamiya 7II. In fact, a key milestone in my career was when I joined the Leica International Club in Moscow. That was when I understood that photography was more than a hobby to me.”

With exhibitions in Russia under her belt, a friend suggested to Troitskaia that she exhibit her works here in Malta, where she had been living for several years.

“So, earlier this year, I was introduced to Rossella Frigerio from the Malta Creative Collective, who then found the perfect gallery for me. The exhibition was very well received, and I was overwhelmed by the number of people who appreciated my work,” she recalls, “and I have since also exhibited in Spain and Italy”.

A portrait and documentary photographer, Troitskaia was utterly captivated by the opportunities for street photography in Malta.

I am delighted that I got to live in Malta, this wonderful country with such a rich history and strong identity

“The light here is impeccable,” she enthuses. “It is flawless almost every day, enveloping the islands’ charismatic, expressive people and I witnessed captivating situations wherever I went. As a photographer, I felt the urge to document these impressions as soon as I arrived.”

For her Malta project, Troitskaia started with landscape photography and later focused on interactions on the street.

“It’s astonishing how, in a small country like Malta, you can find a fascinating mix of both modern and retro motifs. I am fascinated by Malta’s old shops – they look and feel like they are from another epoch. For me, this inspires layered, thought-provoking shots.”

She was so consumed by the project that one day she realised she had taken so many photographs of Malta that she needed to sort out her archive. Simultaneously, the idea of publishing a book was suggested to her.

“So – I combined clearing out the archive with curating shots for the book, and it was not an easy task!” she laughs. “I naturally chose pictures that I like most and that contain a little story. They’re also photos that are interesting from a historical point of view, as they contain both everyday life in Malta and the impact of the first quarantine of 2020.”

Troitskaia is thrilled with her collaboration with local publishing house Book Distributors Ltd (BDL).  She is well-acquainted with publisher Oliver Gatt, who she says gave excellent advice regarding her book’s design: “I adjusted my initial concept and I firmly believe that it became a much better book because of our collaboration.”

Exiles Bay, Sliema (2020)Exiles Bay, Sliema (2020)

Undoubtedly, this has been an exciting time for Troitskaia, as she awaits the book’s publication on Tuesday. She is effusive in her thanks to her family, friends and the publishers for their unlimited support.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to all the characters in my pictures, without whom this would not have happened,” adds Troitskaia.

“I am delighted that I got to live in Malta, this wonderful country with such a rich history and strong identity. The book sums up my experiences on the streets of Malta very well. I will continue to take pictures here but the book provides a sense of completion to my street photography project before I move on to my next one.”

Maltese Exposures, with photography by Daria Troitskaia, foreword by Giovanni Bonello and introduction by Anastasia Glawion, is designed by BDL. It will be available from BDL’s online shop at www.bdlbooks.com from November 24. More information about Troitskaia can be found at www.dariatroitskaia.com, via Facebook at www.facebook.com/dtroitskaia and Instagram at www.instagram.com/dariatroitskaia.

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