Photos of the Fascinating Things Women Keep in Their Bags

As a kid, I was convinced that my mom and her friends 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.

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Jul 15 2016, 2:30pm

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.

Alena, 17 years old, student

Alena, 17 years old, student

Alexandra, 26 years old, freelance designer

Alexandra, 26 years old, freelance designer

Elena, 56 years old, businesswoman

Elena, 56 years old, businesswoman

Katya, 37 years old, journalist

Katya, 37 years old, journalist

Kristina, 19 years old, art student

Kristina, 19 years old, art student

Kseniya, 31 years old, photographer

Kseniya, 31 years old, photographer

Liza, 21 years old, currently unemployed

Liza, 21 years old, currently unemployed

Lubov, 31 years old, gallerist

Lubov, 31 years old, gallerist

Masha, 56 years old, jeweler

Masha, 56 years old, jeweler

Natalia, 58 years old, security guard

Natalia, 58 years old, security guard

Olga, 33 years old, unemployed

Olga, 33 years old, unemployed

Olya, 42 years old, professional urban explorer and mother of two

Olya, 42 years old, professional urban explorer and mother of two

Polina, 29 years old, seamstress

Polina, 29 years old, seamstress

Svetlana, 24 years old, administrator

Svetlana, 24 years old, administrator

Tatiana, 51 years old, public sector employee

Tatiana, 51 years old, public sector employee

Ulyana, 22 years old, philosophy teacher

Ulyana, 22 years old, philosophy teacher

Vera, 62 years old, kindergarten teacher

Vera, 62 years old, kindergarten teacher

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