Kingston Icon of Photography: Gerd Ludwig

Stalin Statue Photo by Gerd Ludwig, Kingston Icon of Photography

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.

“Shooting inside the Chernobyl reactor was probably the most difficult photographic situation I’ve ever encountered. Your mind is racing because you know you are in a highly radioactive area and you don’t have a lot of time,” said Ludwig. “You rush in, workers are drilling and highly contaminated particles are flying around.”

In 2005 Ludwig revisited Chernobyl to exhibit his photos in 2005, “and I saw people standing in front of the images and crying,” 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 “Broken Empire” – which won him Photographer of the Year at the Lucie Awards, photography’s Oscar – is this month’s feature on Kingston Icons of Photography.


Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.