Photography in UPA was both a popular and unpopular thing at the same time. Many people wanted to have pictures taken of their friends to keep, many of whom would oftentimes die over the next couple of battles. Concurrently, if those pictures would appear in the wrong hands, a whole company could be uncovered. This would, in turn, jeopardize the undercover work of a whole region forcing some commanders completely against such thing as photography of UPA soldiers.

The known UPA photos have several sources. A major part of them are in the archives of SBU Ukrainian Security Service, a successor to Soviet KGB, who kept most of its files and personnel after the breakup of USSR. These archives contain data and pictures collected by NKVD and MGB, for whom the UPA was considered to be just a bandit group. The SBU archive has the interrogation files of captured insurgents, captured UPA photos, post mortem images of killed insurgents, results of interrogation  of civilians who could be related to insurgents (oftentimes acquired by torture) and other counter-terrorism tactics. Generally, the SBU archive covers the years after WWII and contains well over a thousand images.

The Yavoriv archive was accidentally found by a family working on their yard in a village of Yavoriv in the Ivano-Frankivsk region in June 1999. In it were contained 216 negatives on a 6cm film (202 of them on 6x9cm, 12 on 4.5x6cm, and a few on 6x6cm). Photos portray the time period of 1945-51 in Tactical Sector 21 of UPA-West.

Vasylyna Rusynyuk took part in the insurgent movement as a messenger; she evaded being arrested by changing her last name. In the mid 1980s, before she died, she entrusted her UPA archive to Vasyl Rybchuk whose dad was relocated to Kazakhstan by Soviet organs for sympathizing insurgents. The archive of 153 photos would surface in 1995. Interestingly enough, about 90 of them were made of the negatives that will be found by Kischuk family in 4 years in Yavoriv. Her archive would thereby add another 55 photo-scenes to the Yavoriv photo heritage of UPA, summing it up to about 280 different scenes.

Volodymyr Yakymyuk Askold was a skillful tailor in the UPA and a referent of insurgency propaganda in the Kosiv region since 1947 until his arrest in 1952. He came back from the Siberian camps in 1966. After unsuccessful attempts to be rehabilitated as a combatant of WWII on the side of Ukrainian state in the 1990s he decided not to disclose the UPA pictures archive that he secretly kept all these years. Only after his death a few years ago  was the archive was revealed by his family. Altogether the archive contained 88 pictures of different sizes and one recent photocopy. The source film sizes would also be 4.5x6cm, 6x9cm as well as some 24x36mm perforated film projections.

The cameras that were used by some of the UPA photographers could be identified by the negative size, the time frame, and the people they would portray. A few of the well known camera models were the Zeiss Ikon Nettar 515 (4.5x6cm negative), 515/2 (9x6cm negative) and possibly 515/16 (6x6cm negative). Also a number of 35mm cameras were used, but they are much harder to identify. Some of these cameras appear on the photos themselves, however, it is difficult to differentiate between models since cameras that could be used (namely Leica I, Leica II, FED and Zorkyi models) looked pretty much the same from far away.

This website has the rights to publish the mentioned above Yavoriv and Yakymyuks pictures. We have the permission of the portal and photographer Vasyl Humenyuk who has done the initial work on the Yavoriv negatives and photos, and later popularization of the topic.