Israeli photographer Tomer Ifrah first visited Sochi a few months before the 2014 Winter Olympics. Under the spotlight of international exposure, the city was going through rapid changes. But it was the essence and unique atmosphere of the resort that stayed with Ifrah for a while.
“I wanted to visit Sochi for a long time, even before the Olympics,” Ifrah says. “Its location near the Caucasian mountains and on the shores of the Black Sea is quite unique. People come to Sochi from all over Russia and other post-Soviet countries for their vacations, and it creates a special atmosphere.”
“Sochi is associated now — especially after the Olympics — with hotels, expensive vacations, nightlife and shopping malls. At the same time, one of the interesting things about the city are the many signs of the past.”
The photos show mountains and the rolling waves of the Black Sea gleaming softly in the sunlight. However, it was the daily life of Sochi’s inhabitants which became the photographer’s obsession for over two and a half months. Wandering the streets in the autumn off-season, Ifrah documented the occasional holidaymakers and locals getting on with their lives despite the grand events on their doorstep. If you come back to the city today you’d most likely stumble upon similar scenes.
“Some of the people in the photographs are Russian tourists, but mostly these are the local people of Sochi”, says Ifrah. “These pictures only go to show the timeless atmosphere of this special city.”