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Ukrainian Railroad Ladies: how it all began

Osnovy Publishing is thrilled to present Ukrainian Railroad Ladies this year in July. It’s a photo-project by Sasha Maslov, which includes portraits of female workers of the Ukrainian railway from all over the country. We spoke to Maslov about the project and the upcoming book.

What was the source of inspiration for Ukrainian Railroad Ladies?


I fell in love with railroad stations as a kid. We used to travel a lot, and I stared at all the crossroad cabins with childish adoration. Later on, I became a photographer and still had this idea in my mind — to investigate the aesthetics of the Ukrainian traffic controllers. When Donald Trump became the President of the United States back in 2016, I thought it was a great moment to work on this apolitical, neutral, and a very close to my heart project — Ukrainian Railroad Ladies.



While work in progress


After we got all the required permissions from Ukrzaliznytsia we could arrange the trips. My assistant and I travelled together with the railway station workers. I can say that I had enough time to investigate the roads in Ukraine. Especially considering that there are no actual roads between some villages and small towns. Sometimes we had to go by car to reach a new railway station. I liked the atmosphere on my ‘set’ — brisk and even comic. The thing was that not all the people knew who we were and what we were going to do. Some even thought that we were from the local newspaper Magistral.



Modeling experience of the traffic controllers

As a photographer, I was waiting for the beginning of the shooting process, as was absolutely new to me. My original idea was to make photos of railway ladies as they were with no preparations. Photographs can tell the stories if you let them. Although, there was one funny case: a woman wanted to be photographed, however, she had no uniform that day; so we all waited when her husband brought the uniform on a bicycle. Most of the traffic controllers agreed to pose. There was a single case, when I didn’t persuade a lady as she was in crape at the moment. In general, all the participants of the project were glad to work with us and posed which I really appreciated.





One needs some time to understand whether the project belongs to books. Does it uncover the present times? Do all the pages constitute one complete work? Does it make sense to correlate the text and design of the book? If the answers are positive, the world is likely to welcome one more photo book treasure just like Ukrainian Railroad Ladies are.

The photo book is available for pre-order here.

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