At the beginning of June, photographer and long-time ZOOT contributor Perou visited Ukraine to document the second medical convoy organized by Medics4Ukraine, World Extreme Medicine’s effort to deliver critical medical supplies from the UK to Ukrainian hospitals and to soldiers on the front lines. While there, Perou found the devastation the Russian army had left in its wake.
Perou gives us a glimpse of the situation in Ukraine through his eyes. Below is a selection of his images from his second trip as well as excerpts from ZOOT`s conversation with the photographer.
Photos by Perou
Interview by Michaela Doyle
Kyiv, cancer hospital
What was it like photographing at the cancer hospital, children’s hospital and trauma hospital? How are these people surviving these simultaneous devastating experiences?
I’ve never photographed people in a hospital before, and I was very conscious I didn’t want to be exploitative of their condition. In the same way I don’t like to photograph “photogenic” homeless people. As a photographer we TAKE photographs from people. I prefer to MAKE photographs.
Often, when I am able to, I give people photographs I have done of them, to balance the “taking”.
Some of the people I was photographing were clearly very ill. (Some I didn’t publish.) I felt awkward and even guilty. I have never been good with dealing with death or illness. I don’t speak Ukrainian so I wasn’t able to speak freely, as I usually would, with the patients I photographed. Although people translate for us.
To be honest, I have spent years mainly photographing rich, famous and beautiful people in nice lighting. Photographing in Ukraine has pushed me to find a different approach to my photography. I feel like I’m “on-the-job-training”, and it’s a steep learning curve.
Hopefully the pictures I am making are sensitive and thought provoking. I am not trying to impose my creative vision on people (like usual).
Do you get the sense that the kids understand what is going on outside the hospital?
This I do not know. But I guess they knew when their hospital was bombed by the Russians and they had to relocate to the basement of the hospital. It must have been REALLY frightening.
Kyiv, children´s hospital
WEM and #Medics4Ukraine have a list of equipment and medicine that the children’s hospital needs, and they will try to source and fund its delivery. To support these efforts, you can learn more and access the gofundme link to donate at the WEM website.
Many images and all caption quotes appeared originally on Perou’s blog entries from 7-14 June. Read more about him and his trip to Ukraine at his blog, Perous Secret Diary.
Check out ZOOT’s Perou in Ukraine – Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4 for more photos and commentary on his trip.