The Frozen Tears of Donetsk, Spanish photographer Manu Brabo documents the human cost of war. His Visit to the war-torn Ukrainian town looks not at the ﬁghting itself but looks to show the lives of the city’s residents 4 many of whom still occupy their homes. Brabo’s story is condensed in Frozen Tears to just 16 photos. He does, in my opinion, an excellent job at unﬂinchingly portraying the reality of war alongside softer images of human emotion. The overarching image of the lives of the town’s residents continuing at whatever cost is beautifully cast.
The arrangement of the images in the story could use work. The best image in the collection is shown second.
It captures a scene of a woman grieving over the body of a relative killed by an artillery shell. I think it does an excellent job as a summation of the conﬂict of humanity and war shown in the collection as a whole.
In light of that, it would be better suited as the opening shot or the closing one likewise, the last image feels out of place. The scenes of church»goers mourning their losses transition back to soldiers, but the last image ﬂashes back to a frigid baptism.
While I appreciate this image for what it is, feel it would be better placed with others like it. A good photo story should end strong and feel that the image preceding this one is far stronger. The rest of the collection feels a little off-kilter in terms of balance.
The content of the photos, or at least the feeling they convey, seems lopsided to me. The transition of images back and forth from scenes of war to gatherings of civilians is jarring. It is possible that this was intentional, but I think it could have been done better if so. The images themselves, however, are excellent.
This may be my personal style of speaking, however, as ﬁnd that Brabo’s use of heavy vignettes and scant, directional lighting to direct focus appeals to me. Especially interesting is Brabo’s focus given the events occurring. In the descriptions of several photos, he notes that ﬁghting or shelling is happening at the time the image was captured, however, those images are still focused on the human subjects. I feel that as a photographer in Brabo’s position it would be difﬁcult for me to direct my focus away from the action of the conflict and remain focused on it’s human element. I applaud him for this. Overall, Brabo does a great job at showing humanity in conﬂict. Photography can excel as a way of introducing the world to this side of war, and Frozen Tears is no exception. Aside from what I think to be a wasteful ordering of the images, this collection is excellently photographed and tells a powerful story.