A grandmother’s fascination with derelict buildings led her to the nuclear ghost city of Chernobyl – and national recognition.
Mother-of-four Chrissy Eastwood, 55, took photographs which saw her highly commended in the prestigious British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) 2014 UK Student Awards.
Chrissy, of Linthwaite, entered the competition and gained her BIPP Associateship after presenting the institute with 48 images of decay and abandonment in the Ukraine city.
These were part of the final project on her Kirklees College Photography BA course at the old Batley College of Art campus, which she graduated from this summer with first class honours.
Her images have caused quite a stir and are now being exhibited in a number of shows in London, including at Somerset House arts centre, and Chichester.
The photographs were the result of trips in February and June to Chernobyl, the abandoned site of the devastating 1986 nuclear accident.
One of her most powerful images shows the floor of a classroom carpeted with gas masks.
Chrissy, a gran of four, said: “You can’t just go into Chernobyl. I had to write for permission to take photographs and then go on an organised tour.
“Then you have to get into the 30km zone, you show your passport and it’s at the guards’ discretion. After that there is another barricade at 10km.
“You have to take a Geiger counter with you all the time and there are certain areas where you are still not allowed to go 28 years later because of the radiation.
“It was all quite eerie, the gas masks were still there in the school.
“It was not how I had expected it to be. Most of the personal objects had been cleared out of the buildings and there are no cars left, they have all been buried because of the radiation.
“It was very strange, it used to be a vibrant city with 50,000 people and shopping malls.
“For my photography degree, I have mostly photographed derelict buildings, graffiti and architecture. It is the history of the people who lived or worked there which fascinates me about derelict buildings.
“If you find something personal, it makes you think about the people's lives there, and there is beauty in decay.
“I really enjoyed my photography degree and I’m very pleased to have been recognised in the BIPP awards.”
She shot the photographs on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and processed them in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. She also used Nik Colour Efex Pro software to desaturate the colours.
Chrissy is continuing to work at Marks and Spencer. She has already undertaken commissions and hopes to freelance as a photographer specialising in architecture and property.
She can be contacted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chrissy.eastwood .