Putin Fan Club | Photographing Russia's Personality Cult

Hungarian photographer Bela Doka has travelled the world in pursuit of thought-provoking photography, capturing people from Cuba to Burma and beyond. We catch Doka in-between journeys and talk to him about his work, and the Putin Fan Club project, which portrays a young Russian generation devoted to their country’s controversial leader.

Hi Bela, thanks for joining us for this interview. What do you care about the most when taking photographs?

The thing I care the most is that it’s my own idea when I take photos and enjoy the process. In the last few years, I’ve only been focusing on personal, mostly long-term projects.

Tell us about the Putin Fan Club series.

What’s the next big project we can expect from Bela Doka?

My next project is called Studio Panindigan. I spent 4 months in a remote fishing village called Panindigan in Palawan Island, Philippines. I set up a makeshift studio in my neighbor’s yard and invited the locals to portray them. I treated the series like my own private movie casting as I found that some of the people really had movie-like characters (at least I had that feeling). I had a great time with these people in my studio. It is a totally personal project, and I went back again this year for a few weeks more to complete and hopefully publish a book on the project.

How would you describe the current photography landscape in your country?

I stopped commercial photography in the last few years, pursuing my hobby-architecture projects, building and designing guest houses once a year, which allows me to be free from the world of photography.

Tell us your favourite book (and it doesn’t have to be about photography!).

There are too many to list!

What’s the single most valuable piece of advice you ever got?

As Lee Freelander once said ‘Do what you have to do!’

All photographs © Bela Doka Words: Bela Doka/Ewa Bianka Zubek

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article