Elena Kaufmann

I was born on May 25, 1985 in Workuta near the Arctic Circle. I not only know a lot of snow, but also Purga, where the snowflakes fly in your face like needles, and the flat tundra, where reindeer can be seen from afar and, of course, the world-famous Northern Lights. I spent my youth in St. Petersburg.

After graduating from St. Petersburg State University in 2007 with a diploma in "Conflict Management", I started studying Documentary Photography at the Faculty of Photography and additionally participated in workshops with Todd Heisler/ New York Times, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Yuri Kozyrev/ NOOR Agency and Sergey Maximishin/ World Press Photo award winner in Moscow. The world of online training later also made my long-time wish to take part in Annie Leibowitz's master class possible.

I moved to Germany in 2012 and got German citizenship in 2018. I then lived in Paris and was a student in the class of Gueorgui Pinkhassov, photographer and member of the Magnum Photos agency. I admired him, a person who is not afraid to stand by his truth. And he inspired me to love and live mine.

I look for what is hidden in people. This means a lot to me because I can show how beautiful we are when we don't bury ourselves behind the thicket of "having to appear on the outside". I love the state of flow during my shoots. The release from self-criticism, from thinking and trying to get everything right. It's basically hard. It's even harder in front of the camera. But it gives us the opportunity to get to know ourselves from the other side and to grow internally.

In 2018, I exhibited my documentary project "A Year with the Star" about one of the smallest Jewish communities for the first time in Germany, at the Erfurt Kunsthalle. The work on the project moved me a lot and so I decided to deepen this and create a new dimension in 2021 with a new project "The White Thread". The linking of women and religiosity in just one photo - and only with a focus on the deeply human and personal, without signs, without rituals, without titles.

Today, alongside ongoing exhibitions, I am working on a new theme: youth. I realize that it is a new world for me and although I don't always feel comfortable and safe with it, I want to get to know this world more. For the past six months I have been slowly developing contacts, being a spontaneous listener of thoughts let loose and witnessing situations that make me think. This is my new journey.


2023 "The White Thread", Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz

2021 "The White Thread", Railwaystation forecourt, Erfurt

2019 “24-ONE: Fire Station. Waiting.”, Angermuseum Erfurt

2018 "A year with the star", Kunsthalle Erfurt

2016 "My neighbor is too loud", Atelierhaus Vogelsgarten, Erfurt

2016 "My neighbor is too loud", Nerly, Erfurt

2011 "Culture Palace", Atelierhaus Vogelsgarten, Erfurt


2024 "New Analog Art Photography" , Pittlerwerke Leipzig

2019 "WASTING TiME", Atelierhaus Vogelsgarten Erfurt

2018 "Quo Vadis", Schauspielhaus Erfurt

2016 "YEA", Kunsthaus Erfurt

2015 "Diary of missed opportunities", FÖN, Erfurt

2009 "Fifty", Cultural Center of Art and Music, Saint Petersburg


2021 Project funding from the Ministry of Justice, Migration and Constitution and the State Capital of Thuringia's Department of Culture

2019 Project funding from the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation and the State Capital of Thuringia's Department of Culture

2018 project funding from the state capital of Thuringia's cultural department

2018 Project funding from the ACHAVA Festival in Thuringia, the Jewish State of Thuringia and the State Capital of Thuringia's cultural department