A journalist's hobby of photographing the hidden architectural treasures of Ukraine's capital city takes on new significance amid the destruction of war.
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, RFE/RL correspondent Sofia Sereda made regular dates with her 8-year-old daughter to document the backstreets and hidden courtyards of Kyiv with her iPhone.
On the weekends, and sometimes during the week after Sereda had finished her work as an investigative journalist for RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, the pair would set off together to explore their city and try to uncover hidden architectural gems.
Sereda says she devotes time to her photography quest because her daughter enjoys the adventures, and the journalist wants to show off the rich architectural heritage of Kyiv that "not everyone knows about."
The resulting photos were posted to Sereda's Instagram account , which became a showcase of the sometimes hard-to-find elegance of Kyiv. Today, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sereda says she has no time to think about her hobby, but the photos have taken on unexpected significance as the fragility of civilization is highlighted by the destruction caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sereda was born in the Poltava region in the east of Ukraine but has lived in Kyiv for 14 years, during which she says the city has become "very important and precious" to her.
While many doors to entranceways can be pushed open and explored, Sereda says in other cases she lingers near locked entrances, waiting to slip in behind residents.
In the case of this entranceway to a block of flats that includes the home of Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, Sereda says she only knew the approximate location.
When she believed she had found the address, she attempted to dart inside after a departing resident but "literally half a second was not enough -- the door slammed shut right in my face." A moment later, Sereda recalls, "the man who had just left the house returned and kindly gave me the code for the door."
In the case of this stucco-adorned entrance, Sereda says she lingered outside on three separate visits until a resident opened the door and she was able to get inside.
It was the roof of this address where former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was famously hauled away by Ukrainian police as he shouted down to supporters in 2017.
Amid the unity seen across Ukraine as a result of the invasion, Sereda believes that "this war will only make Kyiv stronger, and of course it will be always be one of the most beautiful cities in the world for me."
Sereda says that since full-scale war broke out, "I can't think about architecture photos, I think only about my country. Along with my compatriots, I try to do everything possible to help my country win this war." And the she says that "only after that can I return to my hobby."