Inside the exclusion zone – Chernobyl

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Visiting Chernobyl and Pripyat

This trip came together after a dedicated photography trip to Iceland. Some of us wanted to explore Chernobyl and the abandoned city of Pripyat. We had seen pictures and knew about someone who had been there recently. It was almost unthinkable that I was going to walk among the buildings that where abandoned 26 years ago after the catastrophic events that led to the explosion in reactor 4. Almost a year later, I was on a place heading for Kiev.



My main goal for this trip was to make unique pictures of the aftermath, capturing the decay, memories, and the souls.

For these pcitures I used two cameras; Leica M9 with a 35mm lens and a Leica M6 with a 50mm lens. That was my main equipment, good camera for really seeing the subjects.

I get excited when I see abandoned buildings. It’s as if they have a soul and something to tell.


In Pripyat it was as if I went back to another time; so many buildings, things left behind, traces of the people that once lived there in peace and harmony. I walked quietly, not touching anything, seeing pictures after pictures, memories after memories.

There are still a few people living inside the exclusion zone. I got to meet a couple that still live off the land, after they moved back a couple of years after the explosion of reactor 4. The last pictures in this series are dedicated to Ivan Ivanovych and Maria Kondrativna.

Ivan Holmedal is a photographer based in Bergen, Norway. He started photographing in his teens, just for fun, with a Nikkor SLR from the mid 70s – his mother bought the camera not long before he was born in 1975. In 2005 he bought his first digital SLR and his “hobby” became something more. He now runs Holmedal Photo. Check him out here:, and on Ello here: