NEWINGTON, N.H. — They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but some of Patrick Patterson’s pictures may leave you speechless. The New Hampshire resident, who calls himself a visual storyteller, spent a week at a border crossing in Poland in early March documenting Ukrainian refugees escaping their war torn homeland. Patterson captured history through his camera lens. “This definitely hit me in a way that I wasn’t expecting,” he said.
Patterson took nearly one thousand photos. All were black and white and mostly of women and children. “It went from we were there to make photographs and bear witness, but it also turned out to be we couldn’t resist helping,” he said. Patterson helped two mothers who were travelling with 3 young children and two big dogs. He spent 6 hours in a tiny, cramped car with them and his translator, driving them to safety in Warsaw. One of his most vivid memories is of a picture of the family sleeping in the backseat of that car. “Everybody’s is in it, whether one of the child’s hands or part of a face. You can just see all of the exhaustion on all of their bodies. So that’s one photograph I think that’s just sat with me,” Patterson said.
The pictures are poignant and each tells a story, including the two teenage girls who had just crossed into Poland by themselves with no adults. There were also photographs which show the transfer of 150 orphans who had been bussed in from Kiev, including the bus driver sitting patiently holding an infant. “Most of the image is dark, except for this small little child. So the eyes really pop the innocence. You know that child is probably not going to remember what happened, but definitely be impacted from this experience,” Patterson said.
Through his small lens Patterson documented a big moment in history one photograph at a time. Patterson went to Poland on his own and was not affiliated with any organization. He’s hoping to have his photographs shown in galleries and perhaps hold lectures to talk about his experience.
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