‘Showing the truth matters’: The emotional challenge of war photography in Ukraine

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From January 25th to April 8th, 2022, Vadim Ghirda Powerful and recognizable photos Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Initially interested in photography as a way to attend a party, Gilda joined AP in 1990 at the age of 18.

Since then, he has addressed complex social and political conflicts in countries such as Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Macedonia, and more recently Ukraine.

The first day of the Russian invasion found Gilda being bombed KharkivCrouching in the snow next to a dead soldier and a destroyed Russian rocket launcher, in Ukraine’s second largest city.

Then he KyivThe capital of Ukraine, to record the desperate crush of those who are about to leave the country while they can still.

He also photographed some of the horrors found in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Ukrainian officials say they committed war crimes before Russian soldiers withdrew.

I interviewed Gilda to find out about his work and why he believes photography is more important than ever.

How did you get started with photography?

“I’ve been addicted to photography since I was little. I don’t know where to go when I go to a party, but when I have a camera, I suddenly get to do something, which is useful when people’s skills don’t go very well. good.”

“Also, my mother worked as a photo editor at a local news agency, so I grew up as a photographer.”

What is the focus of your photo?

“When I take a picture, I start with an apparently very important technical aspect and go through a lot in my head, but the focus of my picture is on people.”

“I’m a happy person because emotions are somehow captured and stored in images. I think photography is a bit magical in the sense that many people can achieve some of their dreams. ., it’s stopping time, and you can really capture the emotions of a fragment of life. ”

What are the logistics related to your job?

“It takes a lot of preparation. It’s the job of a local journalist or fixer that’s very important. Everyone who works with you is absolutely important. To take great pictures, you need to go to that place. That access has little to do with you in most cases. ”

“When shooting people, first and foremost, we focus on minimizing the intrusion of people. In general, we spend little time with people, so it can be difficult to gain trust, for example. , Visit the trench line. It’s an army position, where you can probably spend only an hour or two. Start work as soon as possible, try to actually introduce yourself, and make people feel comfortable with you. There are subtle boundaries between being and you are interested in empathizing with the situation, actually talking about them, and explaining what they are experiencing. They start to open up. After that stage, you can focus on actually taking pictures. ”

What happens in my head when I take a picture?

“When you’re basically dismembered, you can be completely insensitive to staring at the person through the camera and taking pictures. You wanted to survive the moment you identified your last relative. You may find that you didn’t survive. This is the most difficult emotional challenge. “

“Many people say,’Badim, how brave it is to do that.’ It’s not really. At least for me, the moment I raise the camera, it separates you from your emotions. It’s a danger or something you usually worry about if you were just a bystander, or if you were really involved in what people were doing there. “

“I’m worried that it might sound like a minimal experience, but in many ways it seems like I’m basically just watching a movie and trying to create the best possible frame. That is, this sometimes focuses on what is happening in front of you and what you are trying to get, so there are very visible risks and the like that come from behind you. I might ignore it. “

Why do you think photography is important in the age of war?

“The most important thing is the ability to tell the world in real time about what’s happening. Telling the truth and showing the truth is an era like now where there is absolutely an amount of fake information, especially across all these platforms. Important to. Scary. Photography is an undeniable source. It is important that visual journalism from reliable sources is done by people who have an absolutely healthy moral compass. ”

“My purpose in these pictures is to make many people who see them feel what they feel and to provide tools to actually experience the tragedy they are experiencing. More people will resonate and understand your actions. What others are experiencing will be better. To achieve that, you will actually feel what they are feeling. You have to try and feel. Free yourself from prejudice and ego and you will find yourself the same as this old man. Ukrainian woman. You may be in such a situation. And well Hopefully this will make us all better people. “

“So if one image I took changed the mind of one person, I think I was successful.”

Watch the video above to see a full interview with Vadim Ghirda

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