Photo story

Sergey Ponomarev: A Lens On Syria

A Lens On Syria is the first UK exhibition by award-winning Russian documentary photographer Sergey Ponomarev, featuring more than 60 unforgettable colour photographs from two recent bodies of work. 

Ponomarev was one of very few photographers allowed access to the Government-controlled areas of Syria in 2013-2014. Assad’s Syria offers a rare insight into what life was really like for people living there.

The Exodus captures the determination, endurance and suffering of people from Syria and elsewhere, who sought asylum and a better life in Europe in photographs taken by Ponomarev at the height of the European refugee crisis for the New York Times between 2015 and 2016.

Sergey Ponomarev: A Lens on Syria forms part of IWM's Syria: A Conflict Explored, a season of exhibitions and events reflecting upon the ongoing conflict in Syria.  

  • Homs, Syria, 14 June 2014

    © Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times

    Homeless children play in the ruins of Homs after Opposition forces left the area.  During the siege, children were left to fend for themselves when their parents went missing or were caught on the wrong side of newly established checkpoints. 


  • Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2013

    © Sergey Ponomarev

    A cyclist watches a fire caused by the explosion of a mortar shell during fighting between Government and Opposition forces near the Old City of Damascus.

  • Homs, Syria, 15 June 2014

    © Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times

    An election campaign poster for President Bashar al-Assad displayed on a ruined shopping mall in the Khalidiya district of Homs, shortly after Government forces regained control of the area.  Built just before the war, the mall had never opened for business.

  • Homs, Syria, 15 June 2014

    © Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times

    Abu Hisham Abdel Karim and his family use a local taxi to salvage possessions from their ruined apartment in the Khalidiya district of Homs.

  • Lesbos, Greece, 27 July 2015

    © Sergey Ponomarev for the New York Times

    This image from The Exodus shows an inflatable dinghy, crowded with refugees and migrants, as it is pulled ashore on the island of Lesbos after sailing five miles across the Aegean from Turkey.