Editor's note: This film is no longer available online.

Inta Ruka is one of the most famous photographers in Latvia, and one of the leading portrait-photographers of our time.

She takes photos of people in their own environment. And every picture becomes a story about that person. The pictures have an intense feeling of presence and are magically beautiful. They also tell the story of the people in one of the smallest countries in Europe.


By Maud Nycander

I first met Inta Ruka in 1996, when I was invited to exhibit at the Museum of Photography in Riga when I was working as a photographer.

Sweden and Latvia are neighbouring countries and Inta and I are both photographers; we are both middle-aged women but our working conditions as photographers have been tremendously different. It became very clear that we were born on different sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

After some years, I started to make documentaries and I asked Inta if I could make a film about her. She replied: "Writers just need a pen, but photographers need people. I will help you. I will do everything - except to get naked!"

I wanted to make a film about Inta and, through her and her pictures, also make a story about Latvia. As we made this film we became close friends. I realised that the secret to her photography is her personality. She has a unique way of communicating with people.

To spend time with Inta is fantastic and never boring. She has an incredible ability to live in the present and appreciate everyday details. I have learned a lot about life from her and she has made my life richer.

And now, we are making a new film together.

Source: Al Jazeera