Alexei Furman Wins Portrait of The Year
The jury of the International competition Pictures of the Year announced the names of the winners in the “portrait” category. “Shelling Survivor” by a Ukrainian photographer Alexei Furman was announced as the best work of 2014. The image captures 30-year old resident of Mykolayivka village, located not far from aSlavyansk town (Donetsk oblast). The portrait of the young woman was made in a hospital emergency room after her home was destroyed by mortar shelling on July 4th when the Ukrainian army took back control over the town from pro-Russian rebels.
Alexei Furman told Bird In Flight how the photo was made:
“When it came to our knowledge that Ukrainian troops recaptured Slavyansk, my colleague and I tried to get there, but we were stopped at a checkpoint. Ukrainian army just has got control over the town. One day earlier they have recaptured Nikolaevka – a suburb of Slavyansk. We missed the official tour to Nikolaevka organized by a press service of Anti-terrorist operation, so we went on our own.
There was a crowd of people gathered near the residential building which was hit by a shell. Half of the building was ruined. When people understood that I’m a Ukrainian journalist they almost killed me. One man with a force pushed me out of there, and then pulled me back in a blaze anger to show the rubbles. However, local people calmed down when they have realized that I was taking photos of everything I was seeing and was not trying to avoid any unwanted details.
In Nikolaevka, in a contrast to Slavyansk, a town which was hold under fire since May; people were not ready for the shell attacks. When the village came under fire in the beginning of July people were staying home or staying outside with children. A local person agreed to show me a hospital. That place was important because when artillery attacked the village people were hiding in the hospital canteen, which was located in the basement of the hospital building. Doctors also performed operations right there. When we arrived there was still no electricity in the hospital. A young woman was sitting in corridor shocked by what happened. Her house was hit by a shell, she lost consciousness and regained it only at the hospital. She lost everything she had.
It was a completely dark out of there, so I used a small LED-bulb to capture her portrait. You can see that shadow on her right.
When I received the award I realized that I want to find that woman and help her.”