After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became necessary in the newly independent Ukraine to replace the old Soviet passports with new Ukrainian ones. There was a rush to accomplish this, with all Ukrainians being required to get a new passport within a year. In 1994-1995, in Luhansk in southeast Ukraine, social services began employing photographers to take passport photos in the homes of those who were elderly or ill, and could not themselves afford to pay a photographer. Alexander Chekmenev was one of the photographers commissioned for this extraordinary task. Witnessing how people were living out their final years made a very strong impression on him. One day he took nearly 60 portraits, mainly of elderly people. The very next day, he was shocked to discover that one of the men he had photographed had died. In one house he discovered an old woman who had a coffin prepared for herself. She lived in one room, with the coffin in the other. He also came across a 92-year-old man who had made similar arrangements, acquiring a coffin, and waiting for his death. He had placed it in his shed and whenever he finished off a bottle of vodka, he would put the empty bottle into the coffin. When it was full, he passed the coffin on to somebody else saying that it was a sign that his time had not yet come. When they came to take his photo, the old man sat at a table with his nephew, a bottle of vodka and two full shot glasses standing in front of them. Chekmenev also took photos of people who were mentally confused. They did not know what was going on, why they were being seated, or why he was taking pictures of them. One person, unable to move, had to be lifted from his bed. Two social workers held him in an upright position, whilst two others held the backdrop. Evidently, he too needed a new passport.