Today marks 30 years since the tragic Chernobyl accident took place in what was the USSR and now is Ukraine. There are many haunting photographs from this troubled area, but visiting Chernobyl last year, I wanted to find my own way of telling the story of this nuclear accident which took place 30 years ago. Since I love photographing architecture and interiors, I decided to photograph the place just like I would any client assignment, paying close attention to lines and architectural and interior details which I felt provided a sharp contrast with the starkness of all these abandoned places.
It’s very moving to hear the stories of the people who lived here during the nuclear accident and who would have been a lot better off if the government would have told them in time to evacuate. The town had available hundreds of gas masks which could have been used to reduce some of the radiation effects, yet they were not used in order to not create panic in the first 24-48 hours. As a kid living in communist Romania at the time, I remember that even the Romanian government was secretive about the whole accident and people were trying to find any kind of information about the radioactive cloud that was moving above Europe.
(Above) The kindergarten in the village of Kopachi which lies in the Chernobyl exclusion zone and was abandoned shortly after the nuclear accident in 1986.
(Above) The town of Pripyat was quite well-off by Soviet standards and it had a big sports complex, with a basketball court, swimming pool, diving platforms and a range of other facilities.
(Above) An abandoned supermarket in the city of Pripyat. Unlike many other former USSRs towns, Pripyat was quite prosperous due to its proximity to Chernobyl and because people were earning good salaries compared to the rest of the country.
(Above) All the buildings within Pripyat have been thoroughly cleaned up to diminish the radioactivity and many of the window frames have been removed from most buildings.
(Above) The town swimming pool in Pripyat
(Above and below) An abandoned building in the town of Pripyat, the main town affected by the nuclear accident in Chernobyl.