Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, b.1938) is a renowned photographer whose work deals extensively with human conditions in the former Soviet Union. Mikailov was originally an engineer, but he took up photography professionally after losing his job when the KGB found nude portraits of his wife that he had taken. Mikhailov began to release his work in social documentary series of photographs, which fall under the category of Concept Art. His first significant series was the Private Series, which documented private domestic scenes and began to develop his reputation for intimate and sometimes playful representations of the individual. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mikhailov's work began to focus on the realities of life under Soviet rule, beginning with the Red Series, which first gained Mikhailov notoriety as a photographer of Soviet realities. He continued with Unfinished Dissertation, a mixed media project combining his documentary-style photographs of life in the town of Kharkov with fragments of his uncle's university lecture notes.
Mikhailov's most notable work is often considered to be 1999's Case History, a revealing series of photographs dealing with the homeless and lack of social support in post-Soviet Russia. Case History was one of the first series to depict conditions of individuals in Eastern Europe after communism. The series was later published in a book collection and won several awards, including the Krazna-Krausz Photography Book Award. He has since published a number of other collections of his photographs, working alongside fellow photographers, such as Collier Schorr (American, b.1963). His style continues to deal primarily with images of people on the outside of society, especially those in post-Soviet countries. These themes are exemplified in Mikhailov's recent works, such as the 2011 series The Wedding, which depicts the staged wedding of two homeless Russians in often absurd but tragic photographs.
Mikhailov currently lives and works in Berlin, and exhibits his work at a variety of museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Centre de la Photographie in Geneva, and Saatchi Gallery in London.