New East Digital Archive

Photos for mum: I staged my happily ever after to please my mother

26 April 2018

Things are pretty damn good. You’re at the top of your game at work. Your social life is flourishing. Yet, none of that seems to satisfy your relatives who won’t stop asking when you’re going to meet a nice guy and finally settle down. Sound familiar? For St. Petersburg-based photographer Albina Galeeva, it has become something of an awkward social ritual. “I am 38, not married and have no children. My mum tells me ‘a woman’s life is short’,” she says. “And society expects me to have offspring, to buy a flat, to be happy in marriage, to post Instagram selfies, while men expect me to invite them for sex.” Tired of “disappointing” her mother, the Russian photographer decided to make a photo album to show, once and for all, that she’s doing just fine. She put an ad on various dating sites, inviting men to act out the life milestones she should have already achieved. Her series Photos for Mum is superbly deadpan. As she embarks on her path to a perfect love life — a traditional sequence of dating, sex, marriage, honeymoon and children — her gaze into the camera says it all. The story ends with a picture of her growing old with her would-be husband. The real happily ever after comes with the realisation that while striving to meet all of society’s expectations is futile, pretending like you have it all is probably even worse.