A Ukrainian Photographer Documents the Invasion of His Country

For Maxim Dondyuk, the story was always personal, but never more than over the past few weeks

n the seconds before impact, mortars whistle as they fall, making a loud and almost plaintive sound Maxim Dondyuk will never forget. He will not forget the sting of their shrapnel, which felt like a hot knife in his arm, or the sight of the women and children he photographed during the shelling near Kyiv on March 6. He hopes the people who see his photos will not be able to forget them either. “I don’t stay here and do this because I am a masochist,” Dondyuk, who is Ukrainian, says by phone from the center of Kyiv. “I do it because sometimes a photo can change people, change societies.” With luck, he says, it might help stop a war.

Maxim Dondyuk: Culture of the Confrontation

'There is nothing worse than war – both sides always lose,' says the Ukrainian photographer, whose documentation of the Euromaidan protests is now published in a photobook

"There is nothing worse than war – both sides always lose," says the Ukrainian photographer, whose project on the Euromaidan protests is now published in a photobook

Ukraine: Culture of the Confrontation - Photographs by Maxim Dondyuk | LensCulture

The winter of 2013 changed Ukraine forever — three months of bloody clashes, tears, fear, Molotov cocktails, burning car tires, deaths, and the struggle between groups with two opposing world views

In my photos I tried to show the scale of all that happened in the centre of the country. Very often I lost the line between reality and fiction. I forgot the place, time and the cause of what was happening. In one moment the battle scenes reminded me of the terrible days of the previous wars. In another, the frosty, fiery battle turned Maidan Nezalezhnosty into a phantasmagoric place. Carefree, obstreperous Kiev completely lost its familiar features.

A Rare Look Inside a Military Training Camp for Boys in Crimea

Kiev-based photographer Maxim Dondyuk’s project “The Crimea Sich” began as an obscure look at a Crimean military training camp for young boys. But his...

Dondyuk, who was recently named one of Magnum Photos’ “30 Under 30,” worked on the project from 2010–2013 and is currently editing a documentary film he shot last year on the camp. According to Dondyuk, because had a connection to one of the Cossacks, he was able to get a permit to shoot in the camp; he lived and trained under the same conditions with the campers for two weeks. “I was allowed to photograph everything I saw in the camp after I told them what I want to show,” he explained. “I wanted to understand the full situation there and to show the atmosphere in my photos.”