With the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster rapidly approaching next month I thought it would be a good time to post on here some of the highlights and thoughts from my time in the radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
What happened that night of the 26th April 1986 changed the world, and its attitudes to nuclear power forever. We were shown what happens when atomic energy is not respected in the way it should be, and as a planet will be suffering the effects of this disaster for centuries to come.
In May 2008 and April 2009 I spent 2 days each visit on private tours of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and out in the surrounding areas. Our awesome guide Maxim who has worked for the ChernobylInterninform for many years took us all over the zone and into many areas that are not normally permitted on the regular tours. I came away with gigabytes of media and data including over 600 photos and over an hour of HD footage. I also used medium film format cameras there which I’m positive hadn’t been done before at that time.
The whole experience was both very moving and a life changing experience for me. I was amazed at how beautiful the zone is, and also the country of Ukraine as a whole. It seems that the only living creatures that are not allowed to populate the 30km zone are humans, I feel this is our punishment for causing such a catastrophe and fitting that we cannot appreciate such an incredible part of the world for a long long time.
Here is an excerpt from my write-up on the zone – our visit to Pripyat hospital ~
Pripyat Hospital, as one might imagine, was by far the creepiest part of the tour. We walked passed dark room after dark room through a maze of hallways while drug vials and broken bottles cracked underneath our feet. Bottomless lift shafts and stairwells that descended into pitch black also added to the dreadful scene. It was not a pleasant place to be. According to some accounts, a group of the first contaminated firefighters from the night of the accident were brought here before being transported to hospitals in Moscow. Sadly, at least one of them never left here alive. Other people who have visited here have said that they felt like they were being watched while passing through the hallways and rooms in this building, while I didn’t feel the same thing as them, there is definitely a feeling of dread here.
Here is a link to the full 10 page write-up ~ Chernobyl exclusion zone 2008-2009
As mentioned above I also on the second visit took a Hi-Def camcorder and myself and my friend Philip Morris took over an hour of footage, here is part one on youtube ~
This in only part 1 of 5 which you can see here – youtube.com/firesuite.
I have also exhibited select pieces of my photography here in Los Angeles in the years since my visits to Chernobyl, below is a shot of the Ferris Wheel in Pripyat, this wheel generates some of the most iconic images that come out of the zone and onto the internet.
Here is the link to the exhibit gallery – Graham Gilmore – Chernobyl Exhibit.
Thanks for reading..