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The Shadow of Chernobyl
By Gerd Ludwig
Jan 16, 2011

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At 1:23am on April 26th, 1986, operators in the control room of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant botched a routine safety test, resulting in an explosion, and a fire that burned for 10 days. The radioactive fallout spread over tens of thousands of square miles, driving more than a quarter of a million people permanently from their homes. It was the world's worst nuclear disaster to date.
To commemorate the tragedy 25 years later, I plan to return to the reactor and the areas around it to investigate the current state of contamination to the land; to report on the progress of its cleanup; and to examine the health consequences in the fallout regions. I am asking for your support so that this important story will not be forgotten.
As traditional news outlets struggle financially, photojournalists must now turn to alternative funding methods for long-term projects close to their heart. While many in the media have turned to celebrity reporting, photographers like myself are convinced that there is both the need and the demand for serious content. Therefore, as the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster approaches, I am asking you and the Kickstarter community for sponsorship to help fund this long-term project.
The estimated cost for two weeks of shooting in the highly contaminated Exclusion Zone is $25,000 (a car and driver alone costs $600/day). However, in total, I plan to raise $50,000 from various sources to cover additional time in the field, as well as the expenses for the exhibits, websites, promotion, etc.
I want to continue my coverage of the aftermath of the accident; to update it; to expand it in respect to region and content; and to take my cameras again to severely contaminated areas with the understanding that some of my explorations are not without personal risk. Like many of my colleagues, I do this on behalf of the otherwise voiceless victims who expose their own suffering solely in the hope that tragedies like Chernobyl may be prevented in the future.
You can be part of the new wave of citizen-funded journalism for projects traditional media sources are under-reporting. Your donations will contribute to awareness through exhibits, self-publishing, and new-media applications. The first exhibit will open in May 2011 at the Horizonte Photo Festival in Germany where Jurgen Trittin, former Federal Minister for the Environment in Germany, and now Chairman of the German Green Party, has agreed to be the patron for the exhibition, "DER LANGE SCHATTEN VON TSCHERNOBYL/The Long Shadow of Chernobyl" and will help to bring a focus of environmental awareness to the event.
I sincerely thank you for your interest and support, Gerd Ludwig

All photos (c) Gerd Ludwig

Born in Alsfeld, Germany, Gerd Ludwig studied with Professor Steinert at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany, graduating in 1972. The following year he co-founded VISUM, Germany's first photographer-owned agency, and began working for publications such as Geo, Stern, Spiegel, Time, and Life. Soon after moving to New York in the mid 1980s, he started photographing for National Geographic Magazine. His humanistic focus on environmental issues and the socioeconomic changes following the dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in the exhibition and book, Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR, a ten-year retrospective published in 2001. His ongoing coverage of post-Soviet Russia has garnered his distinction as being the world's foremost color photographer documenting the region. Now based in Los Angeles, Gerd Ludwig is represented by Institute for Artist Management. While he continues to work for National Geographic Magazine, he also exhibits in galleries and museums, lectures at universities, and conducts workshops internationally. He is a Canon Explorer of Light and the recipient of the Lucie Award for International Photographer of the Year in 2006.

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