contact@sarah-blesener.com Sarah Blesener

Sarah Blesener is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she studied Linguistics and Youth Development at North Central University. While in University, she worked as a photographer for the organization Healing Haiti based in Port au Prince, Haiti, covering events surrounding the 2010 earthquake. Upon graduation in 2012, she studied at Bookvar Russian Academy in Minneapolis, concentrating on the Russian language. She is a recent graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in New York. Her latest work revolves around youth movements and culture in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the United States. She is a recent recipient of the Alexia Foundation grant for her 2017 work in the United States, and a current fellow with Catchlight, working with Reveal / CIR.

Collections created

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Nastya Kirlashova
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Nastya Kirlashova (16) from Mari-El at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Vanya Kurchikin
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Vanya Kurchikin (16) from Mari-El at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Roma Jiltsov
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Roma Jiltsov (13) from Luxaitsy at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The guns are authentic, but are no longer work and cannot fire. They are used solely for drills of loading and unloading. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Blesener_TS_008
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Yekaterina Levitskaya (16) from Omsk. Военно-Исторический Лагерь Бородино 2016, the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Kiril Budni
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Kiril Budni (12) from Ivnyagi at the Historical War Camp in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Nastya Gaveritska
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Nastya Gaveritska (15) from Moscow at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Sergei Kulyeshov
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Sergei Kulyeshov (13) from Luxavitsy at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competition. Air-soft is a sport that replicates military action, but fires non-metallic pellets. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Vika Meshkova
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Vika Meshkova (14) from Radyukin at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Danila Vasilchyk
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Danila Vasilchyk (12) from Luxovitsy at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Alina Klikova
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

Alina Klikova (14) from Medin, at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. The camp is free for all students to attend. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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28_Toy_Soldiers
Dmitrov, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
03 Apr 2016

Schoolchildren line up for drill on a Monday afternoon at School #7, 4 Apr 2016, Dmitrov, Russia. Drill is not mandatory at School #7. School #7 is a public school but offers cadet classes for those who wish to participate. The benefit of participating in cadet classes includes free lunch, while other students have to pay.

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26_Toy_Soldiers
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
05 Aug 2016

Boris Vasilivitch (L) and Gleb Metlin (R, 6) from Stavropol wait for the day to begin a twelve-hour drill in the forests surrounding Diveevo, Russia. 6 August 2016. The drill splits up members of the camp, giving them only a map of the forests and a day to find checkpoints in a competition with other groups. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competition.

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27_Toy_Soldiers
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
25 Jul 2016

A unit dresses to re-enact Soviet Russia during WWII as part of their historical education at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 26 July 2016. The camp offers reenactments of historical periods of war. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 16.

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Orthodox Warrior Drills
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
30 Jul 2016

Igor Fast (14) from Stavropol practices shooting before the start of "Orthodox Warrior" camp. 31 July 2016. They are using air-soft guns for practice and competitions. "Orthodox Warrior" camp takes place in Diveevo, the center of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians in Russia. The relics of one of the most revered saints, St. Seraphim, are celebrated on the 1 of August, attracting pilgrims from all across the country.

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War Films at Borodino
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
25 Jul 2016

Students escape the heat and watch war films at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 26 July 2016. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars.

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24_Toy_Soldiers
Dmitrov, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
03 Apr 2016

Dmitrov, 4 Apr 2016, located 65 kilometers to the north of Moscow on the Yakhroma River, Russia.

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Stavropol Students
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
02 Aug 2016

Students from Stavropol rest in their tent before sleeping at camp, 3 August 2016, Diveevo, Russia. "Orthodox Warrior" camp takes place in Diveevo, the center of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians in Russia. The participants of the camp train not only in martial arts and tactical training, but unite under their Orthodox faith. Various competitions are held throughout the week, including Cossack dagger training and military tactical training.

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22_Toy_Soldiers
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
03 Aug 2016

A group of students dance to traditional Cossack music during the evening at "Orthodox Warrior" camp, 4 August 2016, Diveevo, Russia. The participants of the camp train not only in martial arts and tactical training, but unite under their Orthodox faith.

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19_Toy_Soldiers
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
31 Jul 2016

Dmitri Tanaga (16) during a drill in the forest with his teamp from Stavropol, 1 August 2016, Diveevo, Russia. The group is practicing for an upcoming "fake war" between groups at "Orthodox Warrior" camp. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competitions. Various competitions are held throughout the week, including Cossack dagger training and military tactical training.

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20_Toy_Soldiers
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
23 Jul 2016

Students train in firearms at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 24 July 2016. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 16. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competition. The camp teaches information about the basic kinds of weapons, bases and firing rules, sniper rifles, and different type of weapons.

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18_Toy_Soldiers
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
25 Jul 2016

Nastya Gobritskaya (L, 15) from Moscow and Alina Klikova (R, 16) from Medin at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 26 July 2016. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, and lasts throughout the summer. Students learn a variety of skills from tactical training in handguns, loading and unloading automatic guns, physical endurance, knife throwing, and others. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Dima
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
30 Jul 2016

Dmitri (Dima) Antonets (17) escapes the heat during an afternoon off at the lake. 31 July 2016, Diveevo, Russia. He wears a Russian Orthodox cross for safety during his travels from Stavropol to Diveevo. "Orthodox Warrior" camp takes place in Diveevo, the center of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians in Russia. The participants of the camp train not only in martial arts and tactical training, but unite under their Orthodox faith.

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Orthodox Warrior Students
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
01 Aug 2016

A group from Stavropol escapes the heat at a lake in Diveevo during an afternoon off. 2 August 2016. "Orthodox Warrior" camp takes place in Diveevo, the center of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians in Russia. The relics of one of the most revered saints, St. Seraphim, are celebrated on the 1 of August, attracting pilgrims from all across the country. The participants of the camp train not only in martial arts and tactical training, but unite under their Orthodox faith.

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Performance at School #18
Sergiyev Posad, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
14 Dec 2016

Students from School #18 perform a show at the local theater in Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 15 Dec 2016. The show promotes the cadet school at School #18.

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15_Toy_Soldiers
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
01 Aug 2016

Priests arrive to prepare food at the "Orthodox Warrior" which camp takes place in Diveevo, the center of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians in Russia, 2 August 2016. The relics of one of the most revered saints, St. Seraphim, are celebrated on the 1 of August, attracting pilgrims from all across the country. The participants of the camp train not only in martial arts and tactical training, but unite under their Orthodox faith. Various competitions are held throughout the week, including Cossack dagger training and military tactical training.

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13_Toy_Soldiers
Dmitrov, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
13 Dec 2016

Students compete at the "Inspection of Singing and Marching" competition at the gymnasium of School #6 for students in the Dmitrov region, a suburb of Moscow, Dmitrov, Russia, 14 Dec 2016.

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11_Toy_Soldiers
Dmitrov, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
03 Apr 2016

As part of a cadet course, students stand ready as a teacher observes how quickly they can dress in gas masks, 4 Apr 2016, School #7, Dmitrov, Russia.

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12_Toy_Soldiers
Dmitrov, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
13 Dec 2016

Students compete at the "Inspection of Singing and Marching" competition at the gymnasium of School #6 for students in the Dmitrov region, a suburb of Moscow, Dmitrov, Russia, 14 Dec 2016.

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09_Toy_Soldiers
Dmitrov, Moskovskaya Oblast'
By Sarah Blesener
04 Apr 2016

A class is in session at School #7, 05 Apr 2016, Dmitrov, Russia. School #7 is a public school but offers cadet classes for those who wish to participate. The benefit of participating in cadet classes includes free lunch, while other students have to pay.

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Legacies
Dmitrov, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
03 Apr 2016

A wall is decorated with legacies from Russian history, starting with Vladimir Putin on the far left, 4 Apr 2016, School #7, Dmitrov, Russia.

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07_Toy_Soldiers
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
28 Jul 2016

A fake grenade is launched, setting smoke in the atmosphere as students practice a drill with air-soft guns at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 29 July 2016. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competition. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. 350 adolescents are in attendance, ranging in ages from 11 to 16, and lasts throughout the summer.

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Students at the Historical War Camp
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
24 Jul 2016

Students dressed in traditional hats and shirts of the Russian air-force pose for a portrait during a firearm drill at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 25 July 2016. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competition. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars.

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06_Toy_Soldiers
Sergiyev Posad, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
14 Dec 2016

Students from School #18 perform a show at the local theater in Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 15 Dec 2016. The show promotes the cadet school at School #18.

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04_Toy_Soldiers
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
27 Jul 2016

Students train horse-back riding at the Historical War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 28 July 2016. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Baklashkin
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
05 Apr 2016

Artyom Baklashkin (17), a student of the local secondary school in the village of Diveevo, stands guard in an abandoned building with a group known as the "Survivalists", 6 Apr 2016, Russia. Survivalists train young adults to survive future wars and post-apocalyptic life and meet weekly for tactical drills. They are using air-soft guns for the practice and competition.

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02_Toy_Soldiers
Diveevo, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
30 Jul 2016

"Orthodox Warrior" camp takes place in Diveevo, the center of pilgrimate for Orthodox Christians in Russia, 31 July, 2016. The relics of one of the most revered saints, St. Seraphim, is celebrated on the 1 of August, attracting pilgrims from all across the country. The partcipants of the camp train not only in martial arts and tactical training, but unite under their Orthodox faith. Various competitions are held throughout the week, including Cossack dagger training and military tactical training. Attendees come from all across Russia, including regions like Stavropol.

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03_Toy_Soldiers
Borodino, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
25 Jul 2016

A unit dresses to re-enact Soviet Russia during WWII as part of their historical education at the Historical-War Camp, in Borodino, Russia. 26 July 2016. The camp offers reenactments of historical periods of war. Borodino is famous for a battle fought on 7 Sep 1812 - the deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. The project statement of the camp says: "To awaken in the younger generation a keen interest in the history of the Fatherland, the glorious deeds of our ancestors, to facilitate the expansion of military-historical knowledge."

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Awaiting Competition
Sergiyev Posad, Moscow Oblast
By Sarah Blesener
14 Dec 2016

Students from School #18 perform a show at the local theater in Sergiyev Posad, Russia, 15 Dec 2016. The show promotes the cadet school at School #18.