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VICE Loves Magnum: Chris Steele-Perkins Can’t Let Go of England 

Chris Steele-Perkins studied psychology before turning to photography. His early work focused on social ills in British cities, at the time working with the EXIT collective. His time with EXIT culminated in a book by the group called Survival Programmes. In 1979, he released his first solo book, Teds, examining the British Teddy Boy subculture of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. After that, Steele-Perkins started to travel more widely, photographing Africa, Afghanistan, and later Japan. A Magnum member since 1979, we talked to him about all that and his obsession with England.

VICE: Your background seems pretty varied, having studied things like chemistry and psychology. Has that informed your work at all?
Chris Steele-Perkins: I’m not sure about that. I was obviously searching for something that I wanted to do, so I started off with chemistry and I soon figured out that wasn’t where I wanted to be. Psychology was interesting and fun, but again didn’t feel right. It was during that time that I got to working for the student newspaper as a photographer and that kind of got me going. When I finished my degree, I realized that was the route I wanted to follow.

Going back to the psychology bit, it feels like you have a strong connection to the personal aspect of photography. Clearly you’re shooting a lot of people, but you seem to really get to the soul of a lot of personal issues. Do you think studying psychology made you more easily connect with people and their plights? 
I think that’s more to do with common sense, honestly. I could argue that the best connection psychology offered was the fact that it wasn’t nuclear physics. It was a relatively easy course, I must say, which gave me a lot of time to develop my photography. I think my interest indeed is, without meaning to sound pretentious, the human condition. How people live around the world and in the world. I was also hugely influenced by the great humanist photographers; Kertész, Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith, people like that. They were a powerful influence early on, when you’re most influenced.


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The grim factory towns of the Ural Mountains, such as the outpost of Kurgan along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, are among the only places left in Russia where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could still count on the people’s firm support. The air tastes metallic here from the belching smokestacks, and most of the workers are massed in crumbling apartment blocks left over from the Soviet Union. But life is predictable, the average wage is enough to get by and the locals are grateful to Putin for that.

So his bid to win a third term as president—which he won on March 4—focused on places like Kurgan, which he visited on Feb. 13 to tour a provincial school. It was a safe place for a campaign stop, far away from Russia’s biggest cities, where the vibrant middle class has begun to protest by the tens of thousands to call for an end to Putin’s 12-year rule. Outside of School No. 7 in Kurgan, he was greeted by a crowd of supporters who waited for four hours in the freezing cold to have a glimpse of the man they call “our leader,” or sometimes even, “the czar.” Such towns are still home to the vast majority of the Russian population, and they were likely the ones who handed Putin a mandate to rule for six more years. The middle class will then need to wait to see much political change.

Simon Shuster is TIME’s Moscow reporter. Follow him on Twitter @shustry

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was just named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Seanna Sharpe made her way down Monday from the Williamsburg Bridge after staging a performance from a tower on the bridge using a sheet. Ms. Sharpe and another artist were arrested on charges of reckless endangerment. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal )

Firefighters worked to put out a fire Monday in the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue on 85th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Four firefighters suffered minor injuries. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

As part of the Garden of Dreams Foundation’s summer camp, Radio City Rockettes members led a dance class Monday inside Radio City Music Hall for 40 children from low-income families. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

A rooster stood outside a shed in the backyard vegetable garden of Marshall Green’s three-story Staten Island home, which is currently for sale. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)

Milagros Franco, 35, commutes across the Brooklyn Bridge nearly every day on her motorized wheelchair, since the bus line that took her from her Manhattan home to her Brooklyn office was canceled due to lack of funding. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)

Acrobats from the Streb Extreme Action Company troupe performed ‘Human Fountain’ at the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan. Friday. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

Preston, a Vizsla, got some cold-water relief Tuesday from the 90-degree heat at an Upper West Side dog run. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

The cheddar-and-mozzarella grilled cheese with tomato soup, at The Queens Kickshaw located at 40-17 Broadway in Astoria, Queens. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

Actor Zach Braff sat in an audience seat at West 43rd Street’s Second Stage Theatre where his play ‘All New People’ is being produced. (Julie Platner for The Wall Street Journal)

Sculptor Joan Benefiel posed Thursday near her project, ‘Figurations: Fashion District Pilings Project.’ The project was unveiled to the public Friday. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

A flier was posted of abducted Brooklyn 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, whose accused murderer was arrested early Wednesday morning. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

Construction worker Eric Dumalag stood near the south end of the newly constructed 9/11 Museum at Ground Zero as construction continues at the former site of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

Chef Michael Abruzese worked in the kitchen of Polpettina, 102 Fisher Ave. in Easchester, N.Y. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

City Parks Foundation’s PuppetMobile’s ‘Bessie’s Big Shot’ entertained a crowd in Manhattan’s Morningside Park. The PuppetMobile performs free puppet shows in neighborhood parks all summer long. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

Harry Potter fans waited outside the Lincoln Center on Monday for the U.S. premiere of the final installment of the blockbuster film series. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

The Met Opera set up for their Wednesday performance at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn’s Dumbo. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

Pork meatballs served over broccoli rabe at Polpettina in Easchester. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

Clockwise from left, Vasantha Suresh, Suresh Lakshman, Ashwin Suresh, and Aditi Shrivastava enjoyed some shade Wednesday at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo, Brooklyn. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

Riders took off Sunday during the Tour de Queens, a 20-mile bike ride through the borough, which started at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The community ride was sponsored by Transportation Alternatives. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal )

Lisbeth Vargas, 4, cooled off Wednesday with a drink of water from an open hydrant in the South Bronx’s Hub. The Hub, formed by the intersection of Third, Melrose and Willis avenues and East 149th Street in the South Bronx, is one of the busiest intersections in the borough. (Jesse Neider for The Wall Street Journal)

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Police prepared to enter Arrow Wine & Liquor at 48th Street and Avenue N in Flatlands, Brooklyn, on Wednesday. Two men were taken hostage in an attempted robbery, but were released unharmed. In the end, two suspects surrendered. (PJ Smith for The Wall Street Journal)

Jhonny Arteaga, a player for the soccer team F.C. New York, practiced at Mitchel Field in Uniondale Monday. The team was considered the underdog ahead of its match Tuesday against the Red Bulls in New Jersey, and lost, 2-1. (Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal)

A makeshift memorial stood on the football field at Truman High School in the Bronx after Isayah Muller, a star running-back on the school’s football team, was killed Tuesday. The 19-year-old was stabbed in a dispute just hours after graduating. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, at Sunday’s Gay Pride parade with his girlfriend, in white; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, far left; and openly gay elected officials including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, in purple. Friday, Gov. Cuomo signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)

The risotto alla pescatore at Zero Otto Nove Manhattan. The new location for the Bronx-based restaurant is 15 W. 21st St. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal )

Workers painted a stretch of Times Square between 44th and 45th Streets on Thursday. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal )

Patrick Carrajat is the lifelong obsessive behind the one-room Elevator Historical Society, which had its grand opening on Wednesday in Long Island City. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal)

Stage hands Bradford Olson, left, and Jarmel Cruz installed armrests inside a replica of the Royal Shakespeare Theater stage in the Park Avenue Armory Wednesday, ahead of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s six-week residency in Manhattan. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

The Perfect Storm, a blend of Jamaican Rum, lime juice, green-tea syrup, ginger syrup, soda and angostura bitters, is a standout at The Drink, 228 Manhattan Ave., in Brooklyn. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)

Participants at the Society of Illustrators’ Tuesday drawing class this week. At the group’s Tuesday night ‘Sketch Night,’ nude models are on the agenda. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

Fifth-grade students at an awards ceremony on Monday at Harlem Day Charter School, which is being taken over by Democracy Prep Public Schools. Only one-third of the class is moving on to middle school. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

Actors in an upcoming performance of the Shakespeare play “Henry V,” from left, Andy Paterson, Chance Anderson, Tim Bungeroth, Kevin Orton and Max Waszak rehearsed a fight sequence on Governors Island Tuesday. The show opens July 5th. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

Deborah Young, co-founder of the Crown Heights North Association, inside St. Gregory’s Roman Catholic Church, where her group regularly meets. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)

The Astoria Pool in the borough of Queens welcomed hundreds of city residents this week. (Timothy Fadek for The Wall Street Journal)

In Washington Heights, Loew’s 175th Street Theatre opened in 1930. It functioned as a cinema until 1969, when it was saved from the wrecking ball by the charismatic televangelist Rev. Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, who bought it and converted it into his ‘Palace Cathedral.’ (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal)

Tires for sale were piled high outside a shop just off 126th Street next to Citifield in Queens on Wednesday. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal)

Children said goodbye to friends at P.S. 171 in Long Island City, Queens, Tuesday, the school’s last day of class before summer vacation. (Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal )

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