Fine Art Photography Daily

Tim Eastman: Citizens of War

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©Tim Eastman, A woman living in the frontline town of Gnutove.

Photojournalist Tim Eastman’s project, Citizens of War, focuses on Ukraine and the people who suffer the ravages of war, living day to day with the threat of violence and death. Ukraine has been battling for for three-years against Kremlin-backed separatists and it has taken a toll on an semblance of normal life. Tim’s compelling photo essay shares the stories of everyday people and the horrors of conflict that have forever changed them.

Tim is a photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. He attended School of Visual Arts in New York, NY where he received his Master’s in Photography. As an independent photojournalist Tim has covered protests in Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, Brazil, and the United States. In 2017 he was a winner of LensCulture’s Emerging Photographers Award.

A view from Ukrainian territory to the Donetsk Peoples Republic. We're simple men. I don't want to go to war. Who would I shoot? Better they kill me than I kill my brothers. -Vitaly, Novoradivke

©Tim Eastman, A view across the frontline from Ukrainian territory to the Donetsk Peoples Republic. “We’re simple men. I don’t want to go to war. Who would I shoot? Better they kill me than I kill my brothers.” -Vitaly, Novoradivke.

Citizens of War

I visited Ukraine and photographed people living at the doorstep of war. The fighting has brought a seemingly endless stream of everyday concerns: rising food prices, inflation, dwindling employment, difficulty traveling through the ubiquitous military checkpoints, and how to afford to heat ones home in the winter. Landmines wait in fields and forests and residents are afraid to enter land they once used for work and play. Many homes have been destroyed.

These photographs are meant to show the people who are forced to live in the midst of war. They aren’t soldiers, they’re just ordinary people trying to live a normal life in impossible circumstances.

"I used to have a goat but I killed it to eat and now I use its pen as a shelter. It was once 48 hours of constant shelling. When you go outside you're still nervous, you're always waiting for the shelling to start. Everyone's scared now, everyone waits for the shelling. I can't sleep very well at night, if I hear a sound, like a truck going by, I can't sleep at all." -Vasili, 62, Orlovka.

©Tim Eastman, Vasili, 62, Orlovka. “I used to have a goat but I killed it to eat and now I use its pen as a shelter. It was once 48 hours of constant shelling. When you go outside you’re still nervous, you’re always waiting for the shelling to start. Everyone’s scared now, everyone waits for the shelling. I can’t sleep very well at night, if I hear a sound, like a truck going by, I can’t sleep at all.”

Leonid, 26, Anatol. "If the shelling comes here we can do nothing, it's heavy artillery you can't really hide."

©Tim Eastman, Leonid, 26, Anatol. “If the shelling comes here we can do nothing, it’s heavy artillery you can’t really hide.”

"I keep a list of everyone who dies every year in the village. Over the past year over a hundred have died from the war. They didn't build these houses why do they break them? Why do they shell into the village? We haven't taken anyone's money, we havern't committed any crime. We're always scared, to go to the bathroom even we're scared. People are dying for nothing. We live and await death.” -Vera, 70, Chermalyk.

©Tim Eastman, Vera, 70, Chermalyk. “I keep a list of everyone who dies every year in the village. Over the past year over a hundred have died from the war. They didn’t build these houses why do they break them? Why do they shell into the village? We haven’t taken anyone’s money, we havern’t committed any crime. We’re always scared, to go to the bathroom even we’re scared. People are dying for nothing. We live and await death.”

Lyubov, 64, fled shelling in Donetsk to stay in a government-assisted shelter in the city of Mariupol.

©Tim Eastman, Lyubov, 64, fled shelling in Donetsk to stay in a government-assisted shelter in the city of Mariupol. “We’re just waiting for the grim reaper to come for us. The cemetery was ruined during shelling, there is no peace even for the dead.”

"My apartment was shelled, I was outside cooking when it happened. I came in and I was shocked, everything was on fire, everything was destroyed.  Now I live in a smaller apartment down the hall, my neighbor gave me a sofa and table to use. My documents were destroyed in the explosion. Now I only have photocopies,  if I can make a little money I'll try to get a new passport made if it's possible." -Sergei, Avdiivka

©Tim Eastman, Sergei, Avdiivka. ”My apartment was shelled, I was outside cooking when it happened. I came in and I was shocked, everything was on fire, everything was destroyed. Now I live in a smaller apartment down the hall, my neighbor gave me a sofa and table to use. My documents were destroyed in the explosion. Now I only have photocopies, if I can make a little money I’ll try to get a new passport made if it’s possible.”

A watermelon sits split in half by the side of the road.  "Why should I support the soldiers? They are somebody's children but the other side are also somebody's children. I want to cry."

©Tim Eastman, A watermelon sits split in half by the side of the road. “Why should I support the soldiers? They are somebody’s children but the other side are also somebody’s children. I want to cry.” -Tatyana, 51, Novoselivke.

Danil, 12, and his younger sister have lived with their family for over a year in the government-assisted shelter Collective Center in Mariupol. "I miss my home, I miss my friends. My parents would like to go back but they're afraid because my sister is so small. I don't like it here, it's boring. There are no other children here, so I have no friends."

©Tim Eastman, Danil, 12, and his younger sister have lived with their family for over a year in the government-assisted shelter Collective Center in Mariupol. “I miss my home, I miss my friends. My parents would like to go back but they’re afraid because my sister is so small. I don’t like it here, it’s boring. There are no other children here, so I have no friends.”

A soccer ball punctured by shrapnel in the village of Pisky. "Everybody wants to stop this war, everybody wants peace." -Giorgiy, 68, Anatol

©Tim Eastman, A soccer ball punctured by shrapnel in the village of Pisky. “Everybody wants to stop this war, everybody wants peace.” -Giorgiy, 68, Anatol.

A bare cupboard in the village of Gnutove. Food prices have skyrocketed and deliveries to stores near the front line have grown less frequent. Increasingly, people must rely on food they've stored or are able to grow themselves.

©Tim Eastman, A bare cupboard in the village of Gnutove. Food prices have skyrocketed and deliveries to stores near the front line have grown less frequent. Increasingly, people must rely on food they’ve stored or are able to grow themselves.

Marie, 70, lives in the govdernment-assisted shelter Collective Center after fleeing shelling in the east. "This kitten is named Mariska. She heals me by taking away bad energy."

©Tim Eastman, Marie, 70, lives in the government-assisted shelter Collective Center after fleeing shelling in the east. “This kitten is named Mariska. She heals me by taking away bad energy.”

A man in the government-assisted shelter Collective Center in the city of Mariupol.

©Tim Eastman, A man in the government-assisted shelter Collective Center in the city of Mariupol.

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©Tim Eastman, A woman living in the government-assisted shelter Collective Center in the city of Mariupol.

An improvised explosive device detonates during Ukrainian volunteer military training in the east. "How can a ceasefire only last five days? Nobody knows if or when anything will ever be good again. When they shell it's very loud and my windows shake." -Yevegenia, 75, Anatol

©Tim Eastman, An improvised explosive device detonates during Ukrainian volunteer military training in the east. “How can a ceasefire only last five days? Nobody knows if or when anything will ever be good again. When they shell it’s very loud and my windows shake.” -Yevegenia, 75, Anatol

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