Out today, Long Lead’s latest production “Lifting Ukraine” profiles record-setting powerlifter Anna Kurkurina as she rescues and shelters countless injured and orphaned animals in her battle-worn country. Reported by photojournalist Maranie R. Staab, the feature is a touching portrait of wartime survival that documents how the three-time world champion muscles through her days ensuring that in Ukraine more than just the strong survive.

A production rich with vibrant images and crisp video, “Lifting Ukraine” is unlike any visual story you’ve ever seen — and not just because of Kurkurina and her furry friends. The feature is Long Lead’s debut photo essay and marks the launch of a new visual-forward multimedia platform for the publisher. 

Developed in collaboration with Decimal Studios, this dynamic platform puts visuals first, a feat newsrooms have struggled with for decades in the digital space. “In true Long Lead fashion, we saw an antiquated newsroom norm — digital photo essays where images are small, uniform, and flanked with ads — and flipped it on its head,” says Long Lead Creative Director Sarah Rogers.

Incorporating a classic photojournalistic approach that’s visually layered in a complex and compelling way, the framework takes advantage of every pixel on readers’ screens, whether they’re reading Long Lead’s journalism in a desktop browser or on a mobile device. Its high-resolution images fill the frame and fluidly transition from one to the next. Its lightbox treatments let readers zoom into photos on desktop. And its pinch-to-zoom capability lets them practically touch high-resolution detail on their handhelds.

The result is a larger-than-life experience for visual journalism, whether it’s showing a kitten licking a tin of food or a Ukrainian powerlifter curling 120 pounds.

The new photo platform is just the latest journalistic innovation from Long Lead, a story studio that publishes independent journalism on any topic in any medium, anywhere in the world. Founded to prove that high quality journalism, produced without compromise, can have a tremendous impact, Long Lead has already been honored with industry-leading media prizes, including the 2023 Webby Award for Best Individual Editorial Feature, a 2023 Communication Arts Interactive Annual Award of Excellence, a 2022 Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award for Best Specialized Journalism Site, and Best of 2021 honors from Longreads, Longform, and The Browser.