Warsaw photographer reveals extremely moving portraits of Ukrainian refugees – The First News
As the number of refugees continues to rise with each passing day, personal stories have almost become lost in the endless blur of suffering.
But now a Warsaw-based photojournalist has refocused the spotlight on individuals with a series of deeply moving portraits of women who fled Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After first posting his photos on his Facebook page, Aleksander Majdański then posted 18 of these images on Bored Panda last week.
Since being viewed over 50,000 times, they have struck a powerful chord with users with their heartbreaking tenderness.
Speaking to TFN, Majdański said: “Since the beginning of the war, I started photographing what was happening in Warsaw, that is, the influx of refugees. However, the sight of people sleeping in train stations or gathered at refugee points was both incredibly sad and horrifying. I felt like I had to show these people a little differently, rather than looking exhausted and terrified.
To do this, Majdański chose to photograph consenting subjects in their new homes. “I had the idea of looking for women who had already found accommodation; a lot of Poles opened their doors to welcome the Ukrainians, so I thought it would be interesting to capture these refugees in a more settled environment – inside places where they could shelter and feel safe from the nightmare of war.
Taken largely in satellite towns and villages outside the Polish capital, the images evoke a range of emotions and are defined by their sincerity and sensitivity.
In one photo, a tearful 35-year-old mother hugs her daughter tightly. At just seven years old, the child’s eyes fixate on the camera hauntingly; in another, a 36-year-old woman looks on sadly as she holds a photo of her daughter and her husband.
Without any captions other than the person’s name, age, and hometown, viewers must guess each individual story. Looking puzzled, some women seem dazed, as if unable to comprehend their new reality.
But amidst the darkness, there is also defiance, stoicism and resilience – there are even laughs.
Though she looks pale and shaken, a woman lovingly holds her cat and dog tightly to her chest, her bond with her pets only strengthened by the trauma of the time; as if to wipe away tears of joy, we see Myroslava, 25, smiling broadly; elsewhere, with the hint of a sweet smile, 16-year-old Maria cradles a bouquet of tulips as if oblivious to the brutal madness of her situation.
And then there is Olga, 40 years old. Dressed in a smart blouse and sporting a broad, carefree laugh, at first glance one would assume she had just left her office – not her country.
“As a photographer, I always focus on human emotions because that’s the most important thing to depict in a portrait,” says Majdański. “With this series, I wanted to demonstrate that despite the horror they had experienced, these people could still smile.”
Yet perhaps most striking of all are Majdański’s images of the leaked children: Wearing a Peppa Pig sweater, 3-year-old Jarina clowns around in front of the camera, while 5-year-old Katia squints. clings to his precious toy unicorn.
“We can relate to these women and children, and I think that’s why people reacted to these photos the way they did – they could be our daughters, our mothers or our sisters,” explains Majdański.
“I also think the images resonated with the public because this war is so close to us as Europeans. It’s an absolute nightmare, and if we don’t stop it now, it could spread even further.