- PhMuseum Days 2023 Open Call
Ukrainian Love Letters
Dates2022 - Ongoing
Since the full scale Russian invasion began, the story of Ukraine has become synonymous with violence, tragedy, and courage. While working there throughout last year from the front lines to the borders, I struggled with the limits of photography to communicate beyond the horrors of the immediate violence and suffering. Ukrainian friends and collaborators have taught me so much about generosity and courage in the midst of so much darkness. I’ve seen the the worst and the best humans can do, during my first time in the country where my great grandparents were born, looking into faces that feel familiar although I’m also a total foreigner there. Ukrainian Love Letters is the result of my desire to share these inspiring, painful, urgent, stories in a way that draws us all into that experience.
In my years covering violence and its fallout, I’ve learned that images of conflict simultaneously rivet and alienate. It’s difficult to imagine how fast a life can crumble until its yours. It’s human to subconsciously think of horror as other. There’s a fine line between sympathy, and empathy, and its our responsibility as documentarians to evoke the latter. While criss crossing Ukraine, I noticed impossibly bittersweet love stories unfolding in the midst of the war, and found their unique details and omnipresence to contain a universal language, a space through which this terrible history can be recorded through vignettes that are as poignant and relatable as love songs.
I’ve begun collecting portraits of Ukrainians in love, contextualized by traditional reportage. From Viktor and Luba, two 90 year olds who survived a direct rocket strike while home in bed, to Natalia and Anton, who fell in love fighting side by side in Donbas and now dream of victory so they can have children, to Yevheniia, who’s boyfriend went missing, presumed dead, in March of 22, but she refuses to stop waiting for him. Ukrainian Love Letters tells the story of the war through tender, powerful, personal narratives.