From a single city life to a suburban family, Anna and Sikker share how they navigate life's fast changes - and capture its beautiful moments.
Photographs: Anastasia Sevriukova - https://www.instagram.com/sevriukova.photography/
Text: Michaela Medveďová
What are the ingredients of a picture-perfect family?
For Anna Kuklina and Sikker Rosendal, the Ukrainian-Danish married duo, it's about sharing the same values, complementing each other, and working together to set the right rules for their children.
And, well, an occasional family photoshoot can't hurt, either.
Born and raised in Denmark, Sikker says you can only recognise some things about your culture after you've been abroad for a bit - otherwise, it's hard to have a perspective on things. "Denmark growing up was a safe environment - I remember a lot of freedom, running around. There were many good opportunities in school and not much pressure - it was almost too difficult to choose." But he appreciated the Danish concept of højskole where, even though he ultimately became a mechanical engineer, he got to try out journalism and media. "I liked it a lot because I thought I wanted to be a journalist at that point. There were no grades, just people who found it interesting and liked media and creating stories. There was no pressure - you didn't need to get a degree in it - you just needed to try it out."
His stints abroad allowed Sikker to get that perspective of Denmark - he was studying in Germany, working in Switzerland, and travelling in the US for three months. There were times when he was tempted to settle abroad, too, or when he had been offered job positions in different countries. "I think what kept me from this is that I had obligations in Denmark. I was in other relationships. I also think Denmark's work culture is special and very relaxed. I was offered a job in Switzerland, in the German part. I can speak German, but to work there, to live there fully, to learn this new work culture, it's challenging."
But he hasn't fully closed the door on the possibility of trying life somewhere else. "I still feel sometimes that I'd like to do it now. It's more difficult, but don't think it's impossible at all, and Anna is also open to it."
An undercover Dane
Well, Anna has tried it before.
She grew up and spent most of her adult life in Ukraine. "I had a nice life. I've always tried to do things I would like to do. But, until I hit the 30-year-old crisis and started to think about who I am and where I am, I was lost for a while. Then I saw the movie Yes Man, and it changed my life. Afterwards, my friend who was working as an au pair in Denmark wrote to me, and I said yes - let's try this."
Anna also got an au pair job and moved to Denmark. She never actually chose the country - instead, she feels like Denmark chose her. "I got my visa, and everything was so smooth and fast. Even my host family was asking if I did anything illegal in Ukraine, so they want to kick me out of the country so fast," she laughs. "During the first week already, I felt so much at home, like I could finally relax. So many immigrants say that it's just the first impression and you'll get to see how Danes and society are with time. But I like everything. I like the language and the weather. I like how everything functions here."
Denmark helped her understand why she was so different whilst living in Ukraine. "I love our mentality - we're so open, friendly, and share even the last things we have with others. But we still have a lot of influence from the Soviet era and many limitations in our minds. And I was a little different, and I couldn't understand why I stood out so much. I understand I have more freedom and faith that anything can happen in Denmark."
Now she calls Denmark her second home. After finishing au pair work, she had to leave Denmark because she couldn't find any further work. "And I think I'd been here ten times for those two years that I had a break from Denmark. Some friends didn't even notice I wasn't living here anymore. I was constantly coming back because it still felt like my country."
A hike to remember
Not long after she permanently returned to Denmark, Anna and Sikker met. "Like everyone meets nowadays - on the Internet," Anna laughs." Danes are not meeting each other on the street. I used Tinder a lot to meet people. But I was tired of meeting guys who weren't serious. Sikker's profile somehow caught me, and we set up a date, but then I reread his profile and thought: No, probably not, you're probably not that serious. So I texted him that I am looking for a serious relationship, but it was nice chatting to him."
Luckily, Sikker responded and set the record straight. "I was excited to meet you. And when we did meet, I had no doubts. I knew for sure that this was perfect."
Right away, they found a lot of things they have in common. For example, on their second date, they went on a hike. "It was during corona, so we couldn't go on traditional dates because everything was closed," remembers Sikker. This, along with their connection, contributed to the relationship developing fast. "You asked me to be your girlfriend on that hike date. I've never been asked that before," smiles Anna at Sikker.
They went quickly from dating to living together and then married one and a half years later. "We were living one week here, one week there, and then shortly settled in one apartment. From a girl's perspective, you must carry all your cosmetics and things back and forth - it's just so impractical," laughs Anna.
Anna's mindset of sharing all feelings out loud helps their communication. "I believe everything should be said upfront. So I highlighted what I liked, and we tried to find out what to do about the things I don't."
"We are very much aligned in our values and how we inspire each other. So even though we don't agree on everything, we can convince each other to see the other's point of view," says Sikker. "We're similar, especially when we write our goals. We've done many similar things in the past and been to the same places - we could have met each other before. But we also have the right balance of seeing things differently and not being too stubborn."
"I'm proud of being a dad and helping my kids be in the world - to handle both good and bad things and give them the tools they need to become good people and be happy."
This comes in handy more than ever because now, they are a family of four - Anna, Sikker, his four-year-old son from a previous relationship, and a baby son they welcomed together eleven months ago.
Sikker's always wanted to be a father and enjoys it a lot. "It changes you a lot. I'm proud of being a dad and helping my kids be in the world - to handle both good and bad things and give them the tools they need to become good people and be happy. So when we are out on a walk, and it's the four of us, I feel really proud."
Anna wanted to have kids as early as sixteen. Then, something changed. "I think I felt the freedom when I came to Denmark. Then it felt weird - that Anna is supposed to be a grown-up and have a kid. But I knew Sikker would be an amazing father, and I am glad I waited those 20 years and had a child with him. It's rewarding having kids but exhausting, and you learn a lot about yourself and being a mom. Just two weeks ago, I came back to work - and my belly is not touching the desk anymore, but I still have nausea."
Their lives changed pretty fast, and they had a lot to adapt to in quite a short time. With the addition of children into their family, Sikker and Anna moved to the suburbs of Copenhagen so the kids could run around safely and be surrounded by nature. For Anna, it's also amazing to see the children develop and learn new things. Sikker also admires the brotherly bond. "It's seeing the little brother learn things from his big brother as the big brother continues to learn, too. As parents, as a team, we had to agree on how we do things in this house."
One of the things they had to figure out slowly was the language of the house. Anna is doing quite well with Danish, having finished Modul 5, but she and Sikker discussed using Ukrainian and Russian with the little ones. "With Sikker, we mostly speak English. I often speak Danish with our older, and sometimes if I don't understand, I say it in English or ask Sikker to translate. But he is catching a lot of words from my language. For example, when visiting my mom, who lives here now because of the war, in the beginning, he would call her Privet - the word for hello," laughs Anna.
Besides enjoying time with their little family, Anna and SIkker enjoy a shared hobby - modelling.
Anna was the driving force behind this. "I started back in Ukraine. In the 90s, being a model was popular, and I remember thinking about it. But I was a normal size, which was still big for those times. That created a lot of stress, and I put this idea behind me." She returned to it during her so-called 30-year crisis, and she'd tried one photo shoot but did not find the photographer as open-minded as she was.
She gave modelling a third shot in Denmark, and this time, it stuck. She started collaborating with a photographer she met and understood she belonged in front of the camera rather than behind it. "Since then, I've just loved planning, organising, and doing shoots. Everywhere I moved to, I organised shoots - collaborating with others. It is a hobby that drives me greatly and gives me much energy and creation."
She has also successfully pulled Sikker into this world of hers. She asked him if he wanted to participate in her photoshoot, showed him some examples and poses, and made him more relaxed. "And then it turns out he is photogenic," says Anna. "You make me look good," Sikker smiles at her.
In the beginning, he didn't feel so confident. "I just stood there and didn't know what to do. But there's so much movement, and Anna is teaching me how to move and to kiss without doing a real kiss. So many techniques are involved - it's fascinating to me," Sikker explains. "I like to see Anna doing this, honestly. She's excellent, and she loves it a lot. It looks easy, but it's complex and technical. You can spend hours planning, doing make-up, setting, and getting the lighting right. I also like that you can see the photographers "look" in their pictures - they all have their own style."
Anna dreams of creating a photo community in Denmark where people can easily meet. "In Slavic countries, photography is more developed, and you can find a lot of talented photographers with creative, high-quality ideas. In Denmark, people think about photography in terms of weddings or baptisms. But you can do a lot with photos - see yourself grow in pictures or capture the moments for your family."
And that's what they did, too - had a photographer come into their home and take pictures of their daily life: no special occasions, just their everyday home moments.
They're bound to appreciate those moments in a life that's constantly changing quickly.