My dad is a school bus driver
Yana Pirozhok

Yana Pirozhok's statement

The series was conceived as a story about village schoolchildren. I have always been concerned about this, as I grew up out of town and have firsthand knowledge of how it feels. But in fact, it turned
out to be also a very personal, painful at first, but ultimately liberating experience about my difficult relationships with my dad. I had a childhood trauma that formed the complex of a “disliked daughter”. All
my life I lived with the feeling that my father never loved me or did not love me enough. And then there came a moment in my creativity, when I realized that through a photo I have a chance to deal with my
inner demons.
I went to the village where my parents live in the hope to persuade my father to take me with him to his work, to get to know him, understand him, see his life, and make a photo project about it. My dad is
a school bus driver. He is a pensioner, but still has to work. Dad goes to small villages, collects children and takes them to school for classes. I made several attempts to persuade him to take me with him to
work, but my father refused – “you’d better find a proper business”. It took a month of long conversations with him, for the first time I honestly and sincerely tried to open up to him, explain why this is important
to me, why I left architecture for the sake of photography, and what this «strange» (in his understanding) activity in general means to me. “No.” said dad, “and that is the point.” I waved my hand and went to
make meat dumplings with my mom, scrolling through my head, what to do next and “maybe it’s okay for this whole thing, nothing will come of it”. And the next day, dad tells me: “tomorrow, Yana, get ready
for work, get up at 6 am, you cannot be late, I arranged with the school principal, you are allowed to shoot anything and anytime on the school grounds.”
A wave of conflicting feelings hit me: I was very ashamed that I did not believe in him and gave up and very happy because my father made an effort, probably did not sleep and thought about me, tried
to understand me and probably accept. I went with him to work all week, and theoe were some of the best and most beautiful days in my life. We drove through fields and pastures, and dad suddenly took interest
in my project and started to “supervise” it (which actually rather bothered me, but it was very touching), slowed down the speed of the herd with cows or fields with bales of hay and shouted at me to the salon
bus – “Yana, shoot! Beauty!”. And I shot and laughed. Or when dad found out that I want to make a couple of shots from the school cafeteria and cooks, he said – wait here! And he left to negotiate on the
chef’s caps – “they have to be beautiful! it’s for art! ”. “Well, paaaaaapa”, I moaned, “it’s a documentary photo, paaaapa, you can’t intervene here”. But I was happy because I saw such an unfortunate and
sympathetic father. Or he went to the seniors’ boys secretly from me and asked them not to hide, when they would smoke at the school, because “Yana takes off life, everything should be real!”. When I found
out about it, I was terribly angry with him, but then laughed and called him my producer, and he wiggled his mustache in a smile.
Not only did this project help me overcome my traumatic memories of the village school through observing the children and talking to them, but it also allowed me to mend the relationship with my
father, bond with him, get to really know him, open myself up to him, and realize, importantly, that if someone can’t express their love, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

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