Ukraine-born Elburn photographer offers her talent to support her home country – Shaw Local


Working in art seems natural to Olena Swoboda.

She grew up in a small town in central Ukraine and loved spending time with her grandparents. Her maternal grandmother made handmade carpets and embroidered clothing and traditional towels, and her paternal grandmother was an artist whose paintings hung in galleries.

“I always wished I had this talent, but I didn’t have it,” said the Elburn photographer.

However, she later discovered her own artistic talent in photography.

Svoboda attended photography school in 2017 and took private lessons from a photographer in Ukraine before moving to Kane County in 2018. She enjoys doing portraits, family photos, small weddings and events, and corporate branding sessions, and notes that she’s always dreamed of finding a job that’s also something you’d do for fun.

She felt compelled to use her talent to help friends and family in Ukraine, which was occupied by Russia at the end of February. In mid-March, she wrote on several Kane County Facebook groups: “I was born and raised in Ukraine and the situation in my home country is heartbreaking to me. My family and friends are in Ukraine, as are millions of other people who are going through it now.”

Her post said she was offering a discounted photography rate and that the money would be donated to children and families in Ukraine. This discounted rate is still available this month – she’s offering a photoshoot with 20 high-resolution photos for $100 instead of the usual $200, with the proceeds going to volunteers in Ukraine. For companies that are already supporting Ukraine through their own fundraisers, she offers a free branding photo session as a thank you.

Svoboda’s hometown of Kropywnytskyi is about 300 kilometers south-east of the capital Kyiv. At press time, Kropyvnytskyi had escaped some bombing raids but was seeing a large influx of people being displaced. If you’re interested in helping, she says, donating or supporting local fundraisers is often quicker than sending out materials.

“People still need help,” Swoboda said. “I want to help.”

This story originally appeared in the May issue of Kane County Magazine.


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