Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes, is one of the most common animal phobias in Europe, yet many people keep snakes at home as pets. In Russia, this became possible and relatively popular after the fall of the Soviet Union. Mostly people own pythons, corn snakes, gopher snakes and king snakes, but sometimes they even keep cobras and other venomous snakes, almost all of which are not native to Russia. Often people who start with one snake later decide to get more, starting their own collections that sometimes include over fifty species.

In these photographs the snakes and their owners are part of typical post-Soviet environments. The photographs tell stories of relationships between snakes and their owners, relationships in which a snake is not able to share love and affection with a human being, as it’s still not clear how snakes see us — either as warm trees or potential food. On another level, it’s a study of photography as a medium for collecting and observing exotic things, a field in which both snakes and the post-Soviet environment are subjects of interest.

45 images in complete series