Claudine Doury’s latest photobook, Amour, is a love story. The photographer shot the images that comprise it during three visits to the Amur River, Russia, spanning almost 30 years. Amour is a story about the people and landscapes that the photographer encountered along its banks. But, the book is also a love story about Doury’s journey, her photographic career, and what drove her to this 4,000km stretch of land as a young photographer in 1991, six years later in 1997, and once more in 2018.
“The book marks the end of a cycle,” says Doury, who made her first trip to Russia not long after she became a photographer, following a short career as a picture editor in Paris. Having learned Russian for many years at school, after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Doury was desperate to visit. The photographer was drawn to the Amur River because of its similarity to the French word for love, Amour, but also because it forms a large part of Russia’s border with China.
“It was the perfect time for me to visit this border. It was like venturing to another planet,” says Doury, who became interested in the lives of the native people of Siberia during her first trip and returned twice more to photograph them. “I wanted to go back for introspective reasons, but also to find the same people and to see what had changed there,” she says.
The photographs meet in Doury’s latest book, Amour, which does not follow a chronological sequence and has no captions or text to explain the stories of the subjects. “I didn’t want the book to be a documentary. I just wanted to present the images, and for it to be more personal, about myself, and the people I met,” she explains. “I wanted it to be like the opening of a poem.”