I've had Kiev on my street photography destination list for quite a while, even though I didn't really know what to expect from this city. Broad streets, a lot of space, colder atmosphere - I didn't expect to get many intimate shots despite having a different experience from previous visits to eastern Europe. Neverthless, when I found cheap flight tickets to Kiev, I didn't hesitate much and organized a longer weekend in Ukraine.
As usual, I traveled really light with just some basic clothes and some food for the road. However, I didn't pack only my compact Fuji X100F, which is my go-to camera for street photography, but also a mirrorless XT-2 with new 50mm lens. I supposed that it might come handy on the broad streets of Kiev. And I was right.
Right after my evening arrival Kiev welcomed me exactly how I expected in October - with rain, mist and cold. I told myself that this is exactly why I'm here and headed to my hostel on foot, to absorb the atmosphere of the city and maybe take first pictures. My hostel was located just few meters from the Independence Square (Maidan), but it was getting quite late, so I went directly to check in and get some good sleep for the next day.
In the morning, the weather didn't get any more pleasant, but as a street photographer I was actually quite happy to see the dense mist, so I headed out right away to capture some nice moments.
Kiev is full of old Soviet buildings and monuments built in brutalism architecture, so taking pictures there was quite refreshing compared to capturing streets of Central and Western Europe where I do street photography much more often. It felt like there is something new waiting for me behind every corner.
Of course, Kiev is not only about the monuments, there is also the vibrating center of the city with big shopping malls full of people during the day, which turns into display of street artists at night.
The highlight of this trip came towards the end on Saturday when I decided to visit the historical neighbourhood of Podil, not knowing what's awaiting me there. Local people go there during weekends to enjoy their free time and it was no different this time around as I came across a huge car show taking palce there, with many old cars on display - mostly old Soviet ones, but you could find German and American models too.
At the same time, a drift race was taking place at a nearby Kontraktova Square. The smell of burning wheels was omnipresent. However, it was a paradise for a street photographer like me and I ended up spending there at least half a day. I'm still happy about some pictures I took there to this day, I even included some of them in my first photography zine.
Even though I don't speak Ukrainian, I actually got into conversation with quite a few people during my stay. Maybe Ukrainians don't look like it at the first sight, but they were super friendly and talkative. Even those whose picture I took. Cause you never know if people want to start a friendly conversation with you or punch you in the face :)
I'd recommend going to Kiev to any street photographer. It's a very authentic city with a lot of interesting moments to capture. I'm considering coming back one day ideally during summer to experience it when I'm not freezing most of the time.