THE DEFENDERS is a large format photo series shot by filmmaker Vanessa Black in Kiev documenting the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution, the response to the Invasion of Crimea, as well as the days leading up to the conflict along the Ukrainian-Russian border from the perspective of the capital. 

Using a large format Graflex camera, as well as black and white Czech film, Black wanted to commemorate the events in Kiev’s Independence Square using the same language of WWI & WWII war photography.  By using 4x5 negatives, this time intensive photographic process aimed to honor these everyday heroes.

The exhibition THE DEFENDERS aims to tell the human stories behind the crisis.  The individual heroism demonstrated during the months of government brutality is extraordinary.  Meanwhile the collective achievements of these everyday people is a testament to power in numbers.  With focus and purpose, we can achieve anything.  Given our increasingly globalized world and the collective challenges we face as a civilization, it is important to recognize that problems can be solved.

These photographs are part of Black’s larger project titled  #UkraineRising.  The project aims to raise awareness about the crisis in Ukraine, empower the use of purposeful social media and report human news, not only breaking news.   #UkraineRising includes a short documentary series, articles, photos, social media reporting, a fine art gallery show, an Urban Guerrilla Gallery and a mobile gallery.

This exhibition is dedicated to the 103 dead, to the 1,528 wounded and the 500 missing persons from the Ukrainian Revolution.

THE DEFENDERS is a 501c3 fiscally sponsored BLKFLM project.

For individuals or corporations interested in purchasing the work, please contact  A portion of the proceeds is donated to Razom for Ukraine, a Non- Governmental Agency recognized by the United Nations that raises funds for non-lethal aid to Ukrainian civilians and self-defense groups.


About the Photographer

Vanessa Black is a 26-year-old California born, New York based director, producer and photographer.  Using pop-culture language, she aims to tell stories that can reshape our world politically & socially.  

Black’s short film series #UkraineRising has been screened at The Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, SoHo House New York, and Brooklyn’s Union Docs.  Her Photo Exhibition The Defenders was listed as Guest of a Guests “Everything You Need to Know About New York’s Art Scene” and AMNY’s “Hot List.”

Black was named Elite Daily’s first “Millennial’s Making Difference.” Her profile documentary was showcased on Huffington Post World Page and Huffington Post UK.  She was interviewed on Huffington Post’s World Brief about her project #Ukraine Rising.  Black has been selected as Refinery 29 and Revlon’s BEAUTY NATION The New Provocateurs: Entertainers.


The Defender's Opening Night Party