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In this installment of Douglas Kirkland On Photography, Douglas Kirkland talks with his friend and colleague, Gerd Ludwig. A photojournalist best known for his work in National Geographic magazine, Gerd Ludwig has taken a special interest in Russia and the former Soviet Union—in particular, the people and stories surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
As the installment begins, Gerd is packing for this third major trip to Chernobyl. Gerd shares his techniques for choosing and packing gear for a photojournalism expedition.
Next, Douglas and Gerd sit down for a wide-ranging conversation. They discuss the changing business landscape of photography and Gerd’s approach to photojournalism. Gerd also describes how and why he works in Chernobyl and details how he financed his latest trip through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com.
After Gerd returns from Chernobyl, he and Douglas meet again to review some of the photographs and video that Gerd shot during his latest trip. They talk about Chernobyl today, about how video is impacting photojournalism, and about the future of Gerd’s "Long Shadow of Chernobyl" project.
Hi! I am Douglas Kirkland. Welcome to On Photography. Today we have a very special segment talking about my friend Gerd Ludwig, the National Geographic photographer. Gerd is specialized in Russia and the former Soviet Union. This was one of his covers of the Geographic, which eventually became the cover of his book Broken Empire. Gerd has come close to the subjects and gotten to know Russia and the Russians. For example, stories on the Russian Orthodox Church, he has done so much, but what he really cares about most than anything else is the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.
He feels this is devastating and dangerous for all of humanity. He went into the nuclear reactor shortly after the meltdown and then went in with workers when they did the cleanup. These people had 8 hours shifts, but we are only allowed in there for 15 minutes a day. What he really cares about is the devastation to the individuals, the health, the children, they need a voice. And what he also cares very much about is the devastation to the environment and the effect of that and as a photojournalist, he wants to help and make a difference.
But now he had a special problem because he wanted to do more and he couldn't get the financing that he wanted. They didn't want to have the continuity, but he feels as a concerned individual, he must make this statement about Chernobyl. So he has gotten-- he has found a way of getting financing for his new project called "The Long Shadow of Chernobyl" and I would like you to sit down with me today and listen to what Gerd talks about and describes how he managed to get the financing and how he is preparing himself literally hours before leaving and you will see how this individual, Gerd Ludwig, managed to do what all photojournalist would like to do, but very few of us ever can, to really tell a story that would change humanity. Very special.
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