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WPP winner Julia Kochetova: "I wanted to give names and faces to this war"

03.04.2024, 14:25

With her photo project "War is Personal", Ukrainian photojournalist Julia Kochetova, who became a regional winner of the international World Press Photo 2024 award, wanted to show that the war had names and faces. Julia spoke about this in her comment to the Institute of Mass Information.

Julia Kochetova's self-portrain from her project War is Personal

Below is Julia's full comment:

"Since the start of the big war it's been difficult for me to watch my foreign colleagues treat these events coldly and perhaps more professionally. For them, this is just another war, another work trip. Yes, they are risking their lives here, same as Ukrainian journalists.

"But for us it's very personal. Because it's our loved ones, our relatives and people close to us that are fighting in the ranks of the defense forces. It is us searching for the remains of our friends. No foreign reporter, no matter how big of heart, will ever feel the depth of the pain that Ukrainians feel.

"We have been living with collective trauma for generations. So I wanted to make a story that would make the war not just a spot on the map, not just Western support tranche numbers, not just a battle. Because the whole world has come to know the phrase 'the battle for Bakhmut', but it doesn't know the names of those who died in it.

"I wanted to give names and faces to this war. I won't be able to show everyone, but I can at least show the ones I meet.

"The project was a chat in Signal, the most secure messenger app that we mainly use to talk to soldiers. I wanted the story to have a voice, an intimacy, a face. Sometimes the face is mine."

Новобранець 68-ї єгерської бригади під час навчань у Донецькій області біля лінії фронту. Фото Юлії Кочетової

A new recruit of the Huntsmen Brigade No. 68 training near the frontline in the Donetsk oblast. Photo by Julia Kochetova

Портрет загиблого воїна на Марсовому полі біля Личаківського цвинтаря у Львові 17 серпня 2022 року. Фото Юлії Кочетової

A portrait of a fallen soldier at the Field of Mars near the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, August 17, 2022. Photo by Julia Kochetova

Julia Kochetova is a Ukrainian journalist specializing in social documentary photography. She has been reporting on the occupation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas since 2014; her work has been published in many international outlets: BBC Online, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Huffington Post, The National Geographic, etc.

Літня жінка ховається під ковдрою під час евакуації з Ірпеня, Україна, 8 березня 2022 року. Фото Юлії Кочетової

An elderly woman hiding under a blanket during the Irpin evacuation, March 8, 2022. Photo by Julia Kochetova

After February 24, 2022, she resumed active reporting on the impact of the war, taking photos in Kyiv and being among the first journalists to arrive at the sites of residential house strikes. She has filmed Odesa, the Irpin evacuation, the occupation aftermath in Bucha and the Kyiv oblast villages, the work of Kharkiv first responders; documented the frontline work of paramedics.

In 2022, she was awarded the Order of Merit III degree.

Two years into Russia's full-scale invasion, she continues to report on the war and its consequences.

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