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Rory Peck Trust @rorypecktrust
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The 4th freelancer in our #WPFD18 series is Ukrainian photographer Alena Grom. Born in Donetsk, a city controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, Alena fled with her family to live in Kyiv. Her work focuses on children living in conflict zones and refugees in her country
Alena took this photo last spring in Marinka, a badly damaged city on the front-line of the armed conflict in Donbass. “The girl's name is Nastya,” the freelancer said. “She lives with her family, including her little sister, near military positions." [1/4]
“Their whole home is littered with fragments from bombings. While I was shooting, I could hear automatic fire and explosions behind their garden. I was shocked: neither the children nor the parents reacted to the shelling." [2/4]
“They said they were used to it – they had lived for years under constant bombardment. Their dog feels when a strong assault starts. When family members see the dog racing in search of a shelter, they go into the cellar. Sometimes they have to sit there for a whole day.” [3/4]
“I always feel fear when I come to the military zone. I'm afraid of shelling, I'm afraid to be taken into captivity or to fall into a mine. I go there in spite of this. That’s because children are there and I want to tell the world about them through their photos.” [4/4]
Alena took this shot in Trekhizbinka in December 2017, when volunteers gave a holiday to children living in frontline territories. “In the photo the children are all looking in different directions. They have no experience of posing. Parents don't have cameraphones.” [1/3]
“The children know what to do when shelling begins. Yet many families can’t do simple things like warm their home, wash, or cook food. The day before New Year's Eve in Novolugansk, there was heavy fire that burned down homes. They live with a constant sense of danger.” [2/3]
“The first time I encountered this phenomenon of children looking in all directions, I realised even if I'd wanted to make a photo for this purpose it wouldn't have worked. It's an inherent pattern in children of war. They don’t know how to behave in front of the camera.” [3/3]
#Freelance photographer Alena Grom visited the ATO zone in December 2017: “This portrait of me was taken in territory controlled by the Ukrainian military. I had been working on my #photography project about children in the conflict zone that morning.” [1/2]
“When I’m photographing children, I do not ask them to smile. I look in their eyes. Children living in war have adult eyes. After the shooting process, I always want to say something nice, something good, and to hug and somehow protect the children.” [2/2]
“This is a photo I took in Marinka while working on my project ‘Medium of Instruction’ about the children living on the frontline, of whom there are almost 500 – and how they can try to work towards education and development.”
Alena added: “The children need help, they need the world. My goal is to awaken the interest of the global audience to the problem of military conflict in #Ukraine through #photography.”
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