Ukraine in Flames – The Sunday Times Picture Special

They say a picture paints a thousand words, these certainly do.  With just 15 images the photographers Igor Kovalenko, Brendan Hoffman, Jeff J Mitchell, Andrey Stenin, Jonathan Borzicchi, Efrem Lukatsky, Alexander Sherbakov, Bulent Kilic, Petr Shelomovskiy and Sergey Dolzhenko have captured the real essence of what it meant to be on the streets of Kiev in recent days.  Each picture tells it own story but those of people are the most revealing as you look into their eyes and see a range of emotions; fear, defiance, grief.  Other images are brutal in their depiction of the horrors of the violence on both sides and say a lot, not only about the ferocity of the violence but the inner strength and bravery of the photographers who witnessed the scenes; they obviously put themselves in great danger to record the events at close quarters such that we are able to gauge for ourselves what this nation is going through.

Whilst the majority of the photographs are “graphic” there are two comparatively  tame images which, when viewed alongside one another, I found most telling.  The first shows a line of riot police behind their shields, but protruding between two parted shields is a sniper’s rifle; the second image, a very simple composition, shows a helmet with a hole in it where a sniper’s round has penetrated, placed next to a bunch of flowers.  I was very much reminded of the work of Don McCullin, I wonder how he would have chosen to present this conflict to the world; would he have used Black and White which I think would have made these images more impactful, even darker, as opposed to the colour images here which I imagine is the choice of the newspaper.  Whilst the news footage we see on TV is shocking, sitting here looking at these photographs is more thought-provoking as the more you study them the more they draw you in, it is not a fleeting glimpse quickly put to one side as we move on to the next item.