National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig shot pictures of the Chernobyl disaster seven years after the nuclear meltdown, but the risk of radioactive contamination was still thick in the air when he took his photographs.
â€œShooting inside the Chernobyl reactor was probably the most difficult photographic situation Iâ€™ve ever encountered. Your mind is racing because you know you are in a highly radioactive area and you donâ€™t have a lot of time,â€ said Ludwig. â€œYou rush in, workers are drilling and highly contaminated particles are flying around.â€
In 2005 Ludwig revisited Chernobyl to exhibit his photos in 2005, â€œand I saw people standing in front of the images and crying,â€ he recalls. One young woman came face to face with her child self in one photograph. Up until that moment Ludwig had not known whether she had lived or died.
He recalled that on his first trek to Chernobyl in 1993 he carried close to 800 rolls of film; on his recent visit, he used Kingston CompactFlash cards.
The author of â€œBroken Empireâ€ â€“ which won him Photographer of the Year at the Lucie Awards, photographyâ€™s Oscar â€“ is this monthâ€™s feature on Kingston Icons of Photography.