Photographers document Ukraine’s destruction and ask: ‘How could this be happening in 2022?’

Nicholas Kristof said something prophetic on last Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” telecast: “I’m not sure people fully appreciate — it is the photographers and the TV journalists and video journalists who take so much of the risk” in war zones. “Those of us who have a notebook can hang back a little bit,” he said, but photographers “show so much raw courage.”

This week has been filled with examples.

Heidi Levine, a 30-year veteran of war zones like Iraq and Syria, told CNN’s John King on Thursday that fellow photographers in Ukraine are in shock that “what we’re seeing is actually happening. I mean, how could this be happening in 2022?” It just feels like “we have learned absolutely nothing from history,” she said.
Levine has been on assignment for The Washington Post in Kyiv. Here are some of her recent photos. She told King about waking up with nightmares. “I think I just can’t imagine being on the other side of my camera,” she said.

“I even saw a cemetery where the graves were destroyed from the shelling,” she added. “So even the dead are not allowed to rest in peace here.”

Other photojournalists are also sharing the stories behind their photos:

>> Maxim Dondyuk, who is Ukrainian, is documenting the war while “his mother has been forced to flee” and “his father lives in a town under Russian military occupation,” TIME’s Simon Shuster wrote. Dondyuk told Shuster that “I don’t stay here and do this because I am a masochist. I do it because sometimes a photo can change people, change societies.” View some of Dondyuk’s work here.
>> Marcus Yam of the Los Angeles Times is keeping a running log of photos that show the “methodical destruction of a country.” Some of the images are disturbing.
>> Yam, speaking with KCRW, said the world needs to see “the horrors of this violent chaos. I feel like if we saw this, we would understand and not be so quick to wage war.”
>> Lynsey Addario, who photographed a dead mother and two children in Irpin last week, “met with the surviving father of the slain family for a tearful conversation,” People magazine reports. Addario said “I had to say, ‘I’m so sorry I’m the one who took that photograph and I hope you understand why.’ There was no question from [them] — it had to be documented.”

Showing the truth in Mariupol

The siege of Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, has been one of the defining stories of the war to date. The city has been blockaded by Russian forces. Two Associated Press journalists, Evgeniy Maloletka and Mstyslav Chernov, have been the world’s eyes and ears. According to The AP, they are “the only international media present in Mariupol.”

“Their photographs are not only a record of the utter destruction, but a direct rebuttal to the Kremlin’s propaganda,” Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein wrote Thursday.
Maloletka’s haunting photos of a bombed maternity hospital were seen around the world. Chernov’s report that a mother and child later died was a further shock. The pair’s description of a mass grave for children was unforgettable. “More bodies will come,” they wrote, “from streets where they are everywhere and from the hospital basement where adults and children are laid out awaiting someone to pick them up. The youngest still has an umbilical stump attached.”

Both Maloletka and Chernov are Ukrainian. AP exec editor Julie Pace told me, “We are incredibly proud of our team in Mariupol and their commitment to ensuring the world knows what is happening in their home country. Not only have they produced some of the most searing and powerful images from the war, they are reporting crucial facts about the situation on the ground — for example, proving that the maternity hospital in Mariupol had not been emptied of patients as Russia claimed. They’ve also done this work under exceedingly difficult and dangerous conditions, but they feel strongly that this is a story that needs to be told.”

>> CNN Digital’s new special report, “Anatomy of the Mariupol hospital attack,” relies in part on Maloletka’s photos…

“Photographer recounts terrifying escape”

CNN published a harrowing first person piece on Thursday from Sergey Makarov, 34, a photographer from Mariupol who recounted surviving the Russian siege and his eventual evacuation from the city. View his black and white photos and read his words here…

It’s about the mission

Craig Renaud spoke about his brother Brent Renaud’s death in Ukraine for this new TIME magazine remembrance. (Brent was in Ukraine working on a documentary series involving TIME Studios.) “What gives me the greatest heart… is how specifically and genuinely the people honoring Brent acknowledge the mission that drove him,” Craig said. “A person who had devoted his life to telling the stories of overlooked people was slaughtered trying to reach them.”

>> Of note: Craig spoke to TIME while in Warsaw, Poland, “the first stop on the journey to collect my brother’s body…”

>> Brent’s production partner Juan Arredondo is still recovering. “He’s been through a few surgeries,” a friend said on Tuesday…

A unique POV about the Fox crew

Fox’s Greg Palkot wrote a lovely tribute for his slain colleague Pierre Zakrzewski on Thursday. “He was one of the best combat cameramen — all-around cameramen, for that matter — in the business,” Palkot wrote.
Zakrzewski and Oleksandra Kuvshynova were killed Monday in Ukraine and correspondent Benjamin Hall was severely injured. Hall is now recovering out of the country. Kimberly Dozier is one of the only people in the world who can relate to what Hall is going through. When Dozier was reporting for CBS in Baghdad in 2006, she survived a bomb blast that left two colleagues dead. Dozier and I started talking on Tuesday morning, when we were still hoping against hope that Hall’s crew might be alive, and I learned so much from her experience. Today I asked her to tape a podcast episode about the road to recovery for wounded war correspondents. She reflected on her own journey and described how journalists are mobilizing to help Hall right now. She also warned against letting “image fatigue” set in, arguing that “getting tired of the war helps Putin.” Tune in via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite app…

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