RIA Novosti’s photo service

RIA Novosti’s photo service dates back to 1946 when the Main Photo Information Department was established within the Soviet Information Bureau (Sovinformburo).

The department was initially set up to provide photographs to Sovinformburo’s overseas newspapers and magazines, as well as its offices in London, Paris, and Washington.

However, when Sovinformburo became the Novosti Press Agency (APN), the Main Photo Information Department became responsible for preparing photo materials for foreign media, APN’s own editions, and the Soviet press. It established a photo archive, and prepared and sent photo displays to foreign offices. Around 200,000 photographs taken by APN correspondents went on display at various overseas events in 1986 alone.

An outstanding figure in the photo service’s history is Galina Plesko, as she is regarded as its founder. She invited leading Soviet photographers, many of whom had worked on the front during the war, to work for the agency. They included Max Alpert, Georgy Zelma, Vasily Malyshev, Abram Shterenberg, Vsevolod Tarasevich, Alexander Mokletsov, Lev Ivanov, Vladimir Perventsev, Dmitry Prikhodko, and Valery Shustov. Ms. Plesko’s efforts ensured that the agency’s photo archive was filled with some of the best works of Russian photography.

APN photographers captured every significant event in Russia, from space exploration achievements and the construction of the Baikal Amur Mainline (BAM), to efforts to overcome the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The agency’s photographers also covered Arab-Israeli conflicts, the Vietnam war, and conflicts in Angola, Mozambique, and Afghanistan. Some of their later works encapsulated tragic events in Baku, Fergana, and Chechnya.

Many APN photographers, such as Alexander Makarov, Oleg Makarov, Yury Abramochkin, Boris Babanov, Vladimir Vyatkin, Vladimir Rodionov, Sergei Guneyev, and Igor Mikhalev, were given prestigious international awards for their dangerous but important work.

Today, the RIA Novosti Photo Information Department, having experienced numerous structural and personnel changes, has maintained its creative potential, which is vital for success in the free market and high-tech environment. The department continuously updates its technology, and is digitizing and replenishing its archives.

Now RIA Novosti has Russia’s largest photo service and one of the most extensive photo archives featuring about 700,000 photographs.