Rollins College student’s photos document the reality of Ukraine-Russia conflict

Pictures are part of an exhibit at Orlando Museum of Art

ORLANDO, Fla. – The one-year mark is approaching in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and one Central Florida college student is telling the story of the conflict through his lens in an exhibit at an Orlando art museum.

“I think it’s important for my generation and generations to come to understand just how brutal this war and all war truly is,” said Benjamin Mack-Jackson, who is a junior at Rollins College and a photographer.

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His focus in his latest pieces of work is telling what’s happening in Ukraine.

“I think my photographs are the best possible way to tell people what’s going on over there,” said Mack-Jackson.

Mack-Jackson says he decided to travel to Ukraine, on his own dime, and document the conflict with his camera.

It’s a part of the story you can see in his photos now on display at the Orlando Museum of Art.

“The conflict in Ukraine has so many deep connections to World War II that when it started back in February of 2022, I felt it was necessary for me to go and document what I could,” said Mack-Jackson.

Mack-Jackson says he’s always had a passion to preserve the past. In a previous project, he worked with World War II veterans to tell their stories.

As he documented the Russian-Ukranina conflict, Mack-Jackson says you could see the real impact on the people.

“All the stories that I captured in Ukraine are unique and special in its own way, but one that particularly sticks with me the most is a man by the name of Andre,” Mack-Jackson said.

The Rollins College junior captured the moments he met Andre, who is a rocket-propelled grenade operator who knocked out a tank last March.

Two months later, In May, that’s where he says Andre showed him how ugly war can be.

“This Russian tank was sitting there rusted — charred remains of it in the middle of this road, the bodies of the Russian drivers still in the tank, and the body of the commander is laying in the woods about 50 feet away,” said Mack-Jackson.

Going forward, Mack-Jackson hopes people can see his images and learn in hopes of a better tomorrow.

“I think we’re desensitized to war until you’re confronted with it. I think it’s very difficult to truly understand what it’s about,” said Mack-Jackson.

You can view Mack-Jackson’s work on display at “Relentless Courage: Ukraine and the World at War,” a photography exhibit at the Orlando Museum of Art running now through March 19.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.