Dina Belenko
Conceptual Still Life Photographer
I'm a still life photographer, deeply interested
in the life of mundane, ordinary things and their surprising ability to express complex concepts
in relation to humans.

Things can tell what they saw, who held them, who accidentally broke them, and who lovingly gathered up the pieces and repaired them. In every single thing, there is a sense of human presence, something invisible but clear.
I'm trying to unravel these stories and retell them through the language of photography.

Initially, my mind gravitated towards whimsical themes, capturing fairy tales and levitating coffee cups, a playful exploration
of the lighter side of imagination.
These themes, born out of personal upheaval, reflect a deeper exploration of identity and belonging in my photography.

The ordinary items I brought with me from home serve as keepsakes,
amplifying my sense of homesickness.

Yet, paradoxically, they also offer a lens through which I can understand and navigate these emotions.
In my current body of work, these personal artefacts become focal points, enabling me to explore the elusive sense of 'home.'
Broken cups in these fragile balancing constructions are part of my props that I've brought from home, managing to pack my life into two suitcases.
Displaced, but still at work.

Magnolia cone, strange thorns, ginkgo leaf and other (very unusual to me!) botanical forms were found on the streets of Los Angeles. Finding these strange, vibrant and diverse plants gave me not only a form of comfort, but also a sense of resilience and a hope for adaptation. Plants surviving hot Californian climate echo the strength of those forging new lives in unfamiliar lands.

Here every artificial element is brought from my home and every natural one is found on the other side of the sea. I wonder how these Californian garden findings will now grow on Far Eastern broken porcelain.

However, my abrupt relocation to Los Angeles,
fleeing the war in Russia,
catalysed a significant shift in my work.

This move wasn't just geographical;
it was a rapid, almost shocking, journey to more personal and profound themes.

Now, my focus is on the narratives of immigration, rapid change and homesickness.
Other side of the sea
Kenzan and tea
Growing up in an Asian part of Russia, I forged a profound connection to Chinese and Japanese cultures. I acquired a deep interest in ikebana and her modern sister freakebana.

Now residing in America, I stand at the crossroads of these diverse influences. As I'm trying to find beauty in everyday objects, I'm also trying to find a kenzan everywhere. So I can unravel a subtle composition of mundane items.


Born in a small town in the Far East of Russia, my interest in photography began with a simple, cheap film camera - a gift from my parents. There wasn’t a photography genre I didn’t try. Maybe I just liked the sound of the shutter.
I started with snapshots of friends, flowers, and landscapes, but slowly progressed to developing my own style and to control the finer aspects of visual narratives.

After receiving a humanitarian education in Publishing and Editing at Far Eastern University of Humanities, I worked as an editor in a local publishing house. This background has been instrumental in my growth as a photographer. The technical skills in image processing and prepress, coupled with the inspiration drawn from literature, aesthetics, and cultural studies, have enriched my creative process.

My vision is mostly shaped by academic books such as "The Problem and Development of the Still Life. The Life of Things" by Boris Vipper and Vladimir Propp’s "Morphology of the Folktale".

My career has been marked by several achievements, including being named Photo Discovery of the Year at the 18th St. Petersburg Photo Fair (2013), an Awarded Photographer by 1X.com (2014), and featuring on the Commended List of the Sony World Photography Awards (2017).

My work has been showcased in exhibitions across Russia and the United States, and I have written two books on practical still life photography. My latest book, "Composition as Visual Storytelling," is scheduled for publication in March 2024.

The move from Russia to Los Angeles, fleeing the war, has profoundly impacted my artistic perspective. I transitioned from whimsical themes to more personal subjects, focusing on homesickness, lost roots, and the sense of home.
My current work uses objects from my homeland as a lens to explore and understand these complex emotions. I aim to examine them under intense medical lights to understand this pain and maybe even find a cure.

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