“Father and Son, Kyiv” by Jonathan Levine

A few years ago, way before the current war, I was in Ukraine on assignment photographing humanitarian needs of the Jewish community. Each day we had over 6 locations, I never knew what to expect, or who I would be photographing. This type of assignment is very intense, you meet your subjects and at the same time need to find a space to create a photograph.

I was very fortunate, the moment I walked into their apartment, I noticed the light in their kitchen. I was especially attracted to the laundry hanging across the room, there was a warm live-in feel. I knew this was the space to use but was not sure how to make it work. The kitchen was very small and difficult to light. I had my back up to the wall. The clothes line was right at eye level, which limited my composition

Since there was no room for the translator, communication was difficult, I had to relate nonverbally. I would give a smile or a hand gesture, make eye contact. I could feel the connection. They were so natural and comfortable together, it was though they did not notice that I was less than two feet away with a 24mm wide angle lens holding a monopod between my legs. Their love and emotion clearly dominate. A universal, in which no translation is necessary .

Today when I reflect on this image of a few years ago, the realization that life in the Ukraine has been uprooted and broken. A spirit, that can never exist in the same way. This photograph takes on a new meaning, that is very different from when the image was made.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

It is the simplicity of the photo, the kitchen is a character in the photograph. The portrait is about their relationship.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I wish I had more control of the lighting, I like to have more contrast in the lighting.

Jonathan Levine shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Jonathan Levine, New York, USA


Equipment and settings

Canon EOS 5D, 24mm lens
1/60sec., f/3.5, ISO 800

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