War in Ukraine: the Russian invasion seen by a local photographer

War in Ukraine: The Russian invasion as seen by a photographer from here< /p> UPDATE DAY

A Quebec photojournalist stationed in Ukraine testifies without flinching to the worst atrocities of a war that has cost the lives of more than 5,000 civilians and 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

In the last few months, Adrienne Surprenant has seen with her own eyes seriously injured people, bombardments, the bodies of victims of war crimes. Mass graves, too.

Helena Nikolaivna walks away from her demolished home in Druzhkivka during a night strike in the Donbass in June.

“Someone who has never known the smell of death has a hard time imagining it. It pervades the whole place. It goes into the throat, the nostrils”, describes the photographer, whose work is published by several major international media.

When the conflict broke out, the latter left Paris, where she was based, with the intention of taking pictures of the influx of refugees into Poland.

Refugee Daria Mitiuk, a student from Ukraine, left France to return to Kyiv in May. Photographer Adrienne Surprenant followed her on her journey from Paris.

“Except that we get caught up in the stories of the people we document. Talking to them at the border is only half the story. It just made sense to go back to the country,” says the photography graduate from Dawson College in Montreal.

Upended lives

Since then, the Adrienne Surprenant's work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Liberation, Le Monde, Le Devoir and 24 Heures, to name but a few.

An enemy tank seized by the Ukrainians is paraded near front in Donbass in June.

It illustrates the upset daily life of Ukrainians from all walks of life: pregnant women, evacuees from Donbass, returning refugees, orphans, grieving relatives, first responders…

Sasha tries to calm down children, in an orphanage in Lviv, Ukraine.

Her assignments took her through a country she had never set foot in before February, as the war unfolded.

War in Ukraine: The Russian invasion as seen by a photographer from here

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She found herself in April in liberated villages on the outskirts of Kyiv – Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka – where hundreds of people were allegedly massacred by Russian soldiers. 

His photos show workers tirelessly digging holes in a mass grave to dig up their compatriots.

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“This gesture, repeatedly, was so violent …”, she drops, before continuing: “It's hard, it's horrible, but it's still our job. A whole part of our work serves as proof. We reinforce the reality of what happened, even if, for example, torture chambers are cleaned afterwards. »

Katia and Macha who wish to leave together for Poland comfort each other, in a village in western Ukraine about twenty kilometers from Lviv.

Hard to bear

Despite the need to immortalize this horror, it is nevertheless sometimes difficult to bear for those and those who must photograph it.

Adrienne Surprenant talks about the funeral of two brothers killed by the Russians, which she attended in May in northern Ukraine, after spending a few days with their family.

The interview with their father was particularly poignant. “He couldn't stop crying. We took breaks, we took a cigarette, we resumed… It is the moments in the intimacy of the stories that mark me the most strongly, “says the member of the MYOP photography agency.

When The Journaljoined her at the end of September, the 30-year-old woman was in Mikolaiv, in the south, where soldiers had allowed her to approach the front.

“Our possibilities of work depend a lot of who is in a position of strength. As the Ukrainians managed to make good advances [in the region], there are better military accesses,” she explains.

The corpse of a man victim of a Russian strike is embarked in a morgue truck in Mikolaiv in March.

A demanding coverage

Since the beginning of the conflict, the native of Hull has got into the habit of going back and forth between Ukraine and France.

The Quebec photojournalist Adrienne Surprising.

After a month in the field, often working 14 hours straight and rendering 40 quality photos daily, she took a ten-day break.

“It's very hard to pick up. Not once did I leave Ukraine without thinking that I hadn't worked enough,” sighs Adrienne Surprenant. war dragging on? “The more time passes, the more interesting the work becomes. I'll keep going as long as it lasts,” she said.

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