10 Favorite Photographs of Vladislav Musienko

Ukrainian photographer Vladislav Musienko chose his 10 favorite photographs for Bird in Flight and told us the story behind them.

Vladislav Musienko, 44

Born in Kyiv. Graduated Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University, radiophysics department. Has been a photojournalist since 2005. Worked for Kyiv newspaper, Glavred website, as well as international agencies. Currently is a staff photographer for UNIAN agency.

This task wasn’t easy. The photographs I like have emotional background that is not apparent at first sight. But those emotions were what I tried to convey. With some pictures I managed to convey them better than the others. Today I chose these pictures. If I were making this choice in one month or a year ago, there’s a chance I would have chosen something different.

Kyiv, 2006. Entrance to Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. A group of women were frantically crossing themselves and bowing. This created some kind of a silent noise that I tried to photograph.

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Kyiv oblast, 2008. A care home for disabled children. It is quiet in the rooms – you can only hear the sound of your hair standing on end, shocked by what you see. I wanted a drink afterward, badly.

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Yalta, Ukraine, 2008. It’s hot, and the crowd is as big as on the subway. Everyone is half-naked, tanned, you can’t tell one person from the other. And here she is, suddenly, a grandma in her gown and her kerchief. I don’t know what got me, the grandma herself or the butterflies on her gown, but something did. And now I have a picture that I like stumbling upon in my archive.

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Kyiv, 2008. A trip to a summer house crossing the Pivdennyi bridge over Dnipro river. It was too late when I noticed people on stay cables, so I didn’t have time to change the settings on my P&S camera. I turned it on and I just pressed the button. This is what came out, this is the whole frame.

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Kyiv, 2013. Some kind of a gathering of tattoo artists. When I was shooting this, I was thinking: I wonder if Tarantino would approve. Would he understand why the guy needs this portrait on his leg? The tattoo is big, and they did it almost all at once. It was hard for the cinema-lover, and his girlfriend supported him in all the ways she could.

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Kyiv, 2013. La Bayadere is staged in the National Opera. There is magic both on stage and off-stage.

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Kyiv, 2013. Several days after the first bloody dispersal of Euromaidan. The protesters are sleeping on the floor of Mykhailivskyi Cathedral. That atmosphere is absolutely impossible to convey. The monks were praying in low voices, those asleep were quietly moaning in their sleep, and those awake were having quiet conversations. I only made several pictures – the sound of the shutter was too loud. I now regret, I should have taken more.

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Uman, 2014. Hasids are praying on the grave of Nachman of Breslov. It is an unforgettable sight. A huge amount of people are praying, singing, screaming, hugging, sleeping, eating, smoking, all of it at the same time and everyone is happy. While I was making my way to the boy on the bookcase, several pilgrims interrupted their prayers to discuss the operational ISO range of my camera, try to photograph and make a picture with me.

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Kyiv, 2014. Volodymyrskyi Cathedral. The reflection of this woman just caught my eye, so I photographed it. I stayed in that spot for a while. People came, lit their candles, but I never saw the same effect again.

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February 18, 2014. It was a very long and a very terrible day. I made a lot of photographs, and it is a miracle that I managed to keep them. The day after that was equally long and terrible, and I didn’t have time to look through the photographs I’d made. I found this photograph later, in about three months after Maidan events. This is my favorite picture.

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