Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In 1921 he moved with his family to Moscow where he joined a photo-club. His earliest work, taken with a Kodak 9x12cm box camera, was of Moscow and its suburbs; then he worked for a short time in the Proletkino film studios. In 1924 he joined the Russfoto agency and returned to Uzbekistan as their correspondent for Central Asia.  He first used a 13 x 18 cm traveling camera without a shutter, exposures were judged by removing the lens cover; subsequently used a pneumatic shutter directly to the lens and from 1928 used the new hand-held Leica (or the FED, its Soviet equivalent). His many photographs showing the impact of the new Soviet state on traditional society were widely published, particularly in Pravda Vostoka (Truth about Central Asia); these focused on the emancipation of women, literacy, new technology and farming methods, and industrialization. In the 1930s he joined the Soyuzfoto agency and worked with Roman Karmen on a number of projects, most notably “The USSR from the Air” and “Ten Years of the Yakutsk SSR”. He also worked on commission for Izvestia; his coverage of the Battle of Stalingrad is particularly well known. After the war he worked for Novosti and the popular magazine Ogonyok.