Capturing Life in Ukraine
Life in Kyiv and across Ukraine has completely shifted since the start of the year. While some people’s lives are on pause, others on the frontlines — those working in healthcare, essential workers at grocery stores, people delivering food from our favourite restaurants, to name a few — have had their lives ramped up, perhaps busier and more stressful than ever before.
It can be challenging to remember what life was like pre-pandemic: attending birthday parties that weren’t through a screen; running to the market to grab some fresh food, a new pair of sneakers, and a used book; meeting friends at the pub after work; and checking out an emerging DJ at one of the city’s nightlife hot spots.
Nearly two months into the countrywide quarantine, it can be difficult to imagine when things will go back to how they once were. Maybe the image in your mind of the spots you once saw so often — your favourite mural, the view at one of the city’s lookouts, and your go-to coffee joint on your walk to work — are beginning to fade, or at least aren’t part of your daily thoughts like before.
Though we can look to news reports for the latest COVID-19 updates, we don’t always see photos of what life is like beyond the headlines. If you’re curious about how Kyiv’s streets look today or want to travel the country through photos from the days when we were free to explore, many photojournalists in Ukraine can help you stay connected to life in the country from afar.
COVID Diaries Ukraine (@covid_diaries_ukraine on Instagram), a project by the photo and video company The Gate Agency, features photos from various photographers. The account captures what living in the time of a pandemic is like in Ukraine — you’ll see pictures of medics on the frontlines, textile factories producing masks, quarantine weddings, and shots of nearly empty streets beside a few masked citizens.
Andriy Dubchak (@andriy.dubchak on Instagram), a reporter and photographer with news outlet Radio Svoboda, is known for his reports from the frontlines of the war in Eastern Ukraine. However, he covers the latest happenings in Ukraine in general. Recently, on his account he has been sharing photos about life in Ukraine, a country in quarantine, featuring images that make you feel a little more connected in a time when we’re keeping our distance.
Women Photograph Ukraine (@womenphotograph.kyiv on Instagram) is a community of Ukrainian women and nonbinary photographers. Visual storytellers from this community regularly do a takeover of the account to feature their work that covers Ukraine and elsewhere. Captions are in both Ukrainian and English, and not only do you get a glimpse into these meaningful stories, but you also get to learn about the photographers who brought the photos to life.
They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but in times like these when we’re feeling disconnected from what’s going on beyond our apartment walls, photos can mean so much more.