Gonzo-portfolio: Ukraine seen by Maxim Dondyuk

“I am a fan of gonzo journalism. I want to immerse myself in the subject I am shooting.”

Gonzo journalists aim to fully immerse themselves in their subject in order to share their own feelings and emotions. This approach disregards the objectivity requirement of traditional journalism to include the reporter as part as his story.

As a photographer Maxim Dondyuk claims this approach of photo-journalism. He accepted to speak about his work in Ukraine.

“With photography I discovered not only the environment around me but I also learned a lot about myself. I am very grateful to photography for everything it brought into my life.”

Memories from the Crimea Sich camp


The Crimea Sich Camp was a young Cossack military-patriotic camp which was located in a beautiful place of Crimea. In the camp were living and training children from 7 to 16 years. I went three times there to take pictures of the young officers.

I discovered it in 2010 while shooting for a reportage about the Crimean Tatars for some newspapers. I stayed there only for a few hours and took a couple of photos but promised to myself to go back and shoot a full story.

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“I fully immersed myself into the camp: I became one of the Cossacks, I lived in the same conditions and trained with them”

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Thanks to my previous acquaintance with Cossack’s Hetman in 2010, I could make an appointment with him and get shooting permit in the camp. In the camp I became one of the Cossacks. I lived in the same conditions, trained, ate and played cards with the soldiers.

I wanted to understand all the situation there and to put into photos the atmosphere of the camp.

The camp closed because the Cossak officers took part in the annexation of the Crimea and supported what is happening in Eastern Ukraine. I don’t have any connections with them at the moment, because most of them were pro-Russians.

A devouring job


“When I started to work on TB epidemic in Ukraine project, I knew nothing about the problem. I mean, I just believed in all the stereotypes of the disease. I didn’t suspect that the epidemic of tuberculosis was a national problem!

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Actually, public health systems of some economically unstable countries from former Soviet Union are unable to provide independently reliable treatment.

This project became a part of me. After two years I understood I really needed to stop. I plunged too deeply into my subject.

I devoted more and more of my free time to get into this topic. I lived TB hospitals, visited TB prisons… Getting closer to death learned me to appreciate everyday life.

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 © Maxim Dondyuk

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