• Dry Bridge Market, Tbilisi

    Olga Kramer

Your Stories

A series of amazing images, explained by the people that took them.

I was walking down Rustaveli Avenue on a warm spring afternoon when I got bored of the best-known street in Tbilsi. Ambitiously, I found myself on my way to explore the side streets, only to discover an uncommon scent lingering in the air. Instantly, I reminisced about a recent trip to Eastern Europe, as though there had always been a unique smell to it. There it was, the Dry Bridge Market, Tbilisi’s best kept souvenir secret – a flea market leading from the bridge to the park below it. That was when I understood that the scent must have been the combination of old leather and books, along with the ever so slight smell of dried vodka and photo developing chemicals.

During restructuring of the Soviet economic and political system in Georgia, the struggling group of citizens would sell their most valuable possessions for survival reasons on the Dry Bridge. Today, you get a mixture of traders treating selling at the flea market as a business, and of those to whom it still represents far more than that. Yet nobody is pushy, even when they discover you might speak Russian. Instead, traders start friendly conversations with you, are curious about what brought you to Tbilisi, offer their driving services to the Kazbegi Mountains and are eager to have you taste their home made alcoholic beverages.

As I was strolling down the Dry Bridge Bazaar, I encountered numerous Imperial Russian antiques, from ostentatious cups and saucers to sumptuous silver cutlery. There was no shortage of adorable jewellery, Game of Thrones-esque drinking horns, never-ending copies of Lermontov’s literature and portraits of Stalin either.

The predominant theme of my wander was Soviet and so was my favourite trader – a man who has been collecting vintage photo and video cameras for decades. Fully aware of the fact that a photograph of vintage cameras at a flea market seems cliché nowadays, the sighting of Soviet cameras in abundance was a first to me. I’ve decided to capture the still life before I rummaged through it on a mission to find the perfect souvenir for myself.

The trader explained each camera I took an interest in in so much detail, it was clear that this is where his expertise lay. To be precise, I ended up with the first camera on the bottom left of my photo, in which it is still hidden in a black leather case with ЛОМО́ printed on it. It’s an 8M Smena, made by LOMO in the USSR with its peak years in the late 70s and early 80s. It works just as well as I was told it would and when it isn’t in use, it serves as deco in my living room in London Town, introducing more interesting coffee klatsch.

Olga Kramer’s full body of work is here: https://okramer.exposure.co/