Women's handbags have always been a mystery to me. As a kid, I was convinced that my mom and her friends just had to carry around all sorts of magical items, plus a couple of bricks. I thought that was the law—in case they needed to save the world or something.
As a grown man, I can't really say I find purses any less puzzling. So, driven purely by curiosity, I decided to ask a bunch of women I know, as well as a few strangers I bumped to on the street, to let me photograph the contents of their bags.
I spent the last couple of months wandering around St. Petersburg (where I am based), asking every woman I met to "show me what's in your bag." Some thought I was a mugger, some thought I was insane, and some complied. Those who consented to my request, I noticed, took great care to arrange whatever items they possessed on a black piece of cloth I carried around in my own backpack, before they allowed me to photograph their composition.
Finally, I also asked these women to let me snap their ID photos. I feel that the combination of each portrait and the subject's personal items gives a striking first impression of who these women are.