ukraine-war-photography
Kira, a young paramedic who had no experience in first aid before the war started, on an evacuation route to the Kyiv region. Her unit evacuates people under heavy shelling. All photos: Julia Kochetova

‘My Camera Is My Shield’: A Ukrainian Photojournalist’s War Diary

“My work is a war antidote,” says Julia Kochetova, “and a therapy as well.”

Julia Kochetova, 28, is a Ukrainian photojournalist and documentary filmmaker who has been keeping a visual diary of the war since Russia invaded in February.

Kochetova, who was born in Vinnytsya but raised and based in Kyiv, told VICE World News, “When people keep saying that I'm brave or that I don't have fear of capturing these stories – I always have only one answer: My biggest fear is Russia would rewrite history again and again, as it did before. That there would be not enough pieces of evidence of war crimes made by Russians and which they are committing right now. That we would forget the name of the victims. That someone's painful but necessary story would be not covered.

Advertisement

“My work is a war antidote (I hope so) and a therapy as well. My camera is always my shield. The main difficulty is to stop blaming myself that I'm not doing enough for my country. I'm pretty sure that covering war stories not in the native country, is different from the experience I have. That's my country, my people, and my story – so the enormous pain and suffering are also mine.”

A territorial defence soldier and a police officer help a woman to evacuate from Irpin.

A territorial defence soldier and a police officer help a woman to evacuate from Irpin.

Veteran Leonid Ostaltsev, a territorial defence soldier, visits his comrades.

Veteran Leonid Ostaltsev, a territorial defence soldier, visits his comrades.

A keyboard lies on the ground near to a damaged residential building hit by a rocket attack in Kyiv in February.

A keyboard lies on the ground near to a damaged residential building hit by a rocket attack in Kyiv in February.

Nastya Voznesenska and her parents walk across the destroyed bridge that connected Irpin and the road to Kyiv. The Voznesenski family (Alla, Dmytro, their children Platon and Nastya) spent 5 days in a basement and left the partly-occupied city on the 9th of March.

Nastya Voznesenska and her parents walk across the destroyed bridge that connected Irpin and the road to Kyiv. The Voznesenski family (Alla, Dmytro, their children Platon and Nastya) spent 5 days in a basement and left the partly-occupied city on the 9th of March.

A residential building in Kyiv struck by a rocket in February.

A residential building in Kyiv struck by a rocket in February.

A firefighter in Kyiv.

A firefighter in Kyiv.

A priest takes communion with a family of people crossing the destroyed bridge connecting Irpin and the road to Kyiv

A priest takes communion with a family of people crossing the destroyed bridge connecting Irpin and the road to Kyiv.

Birds take flight from a residential building after an alarm sounds.

Birds take flight from a residential building after an alarm sounds.

A woman sits on a bus waiting to be evacuated.

A woman sits on a bus waiting to be evacuated.

A woman leaves Irpin, carrying her dog in her jacket.

A woman leaves Irpin, carrying her dog in her jacket.

A father holds his son's hand as they try to leave the violence behind them.

A father holds his son's hand as they try to leave the violence behind them.

A firefighter amid the wreckage of a residential building struck by a missile in Kyiv.

A firefighter amid the wreckage of a residential building struck by a missile in Kyiv.

Medics evacuate a disabled woman from an area hit by heavy shelling.

Medics evacuate a disabled woman from an area hit by heavy shelling.

Older people sit by a bus after being evacuated from Irpin.

Older people sit by a bus after being evacuated from Irpin.

A volunteer carries a disabled older man across a destroyed bridge in Irpin.

A volunteer carries a disabled older man across a destroyed bridge in Irpin.

A soldier guards a checkpoint in Kyiv.

A soldier guards a checkpoint in Kyiv.

A woman passes a priest underneath the destroyed bridge in Irpin.

A woman passes a priest underneath the destroyed bridge in Irpin.