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This week, I spent quite some time on my iPad. I see it being a wonderful place to showcase photojournalism in the near future.
Photojournalist Gerd Ludwig has released an iPad app to display his decades-long body of work documenting the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe. The work is from several trips taken there for National Geographic, as well as a visit in early 2011 that happened to coincide with the earthquake- and tsunami-triggered crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
April 2011 marked the 25-year anniversary of the disaster, and still the damage is evident in the landscape and the people. This subject is a labor of love for Ludwig. Asked how he feels about the risks he has taken with his personal health, he puts it eloquently when he says, “As engaged photojournalist, we do this on behalf of the voiceless victims, who often share their lives in the hopes that disasters like Chernobyl doesn’t happen again.”
I asked Ludwig: Why an app? Simply put, it came down to the cost. His trip in 2011 to follow the 25th anniversary was funded through Kickstarter as something of an experiment. Although he knew this photography project would cost more than $20,000, he proposed raising $12,000. The encouragement and support surpassed his expectations and confirmed for him that the Kickstarter community supports serious and relevant social issues.
This led to the question of what to do with his massive body of work chronicling the subject and the changes he has documented. A book was the first thought, but with the cost being prohibitive, an app was considered.
The app feels like a magazine of Ludwig’s edited work, along with interactive features. The videos are a nice addition and wouldn’t be possible with a book. There is a video of Ludwig venturing deep into a reactor, as well as a behind-the-scenes of him working. The photography is powerful, and the format lets the reader maneuver from a variety of entry points. It is quite fluid and feels relevant.
When I spoke with Ludwig, I reiterated my love for both the iPad and photography books; at the core of everything, the content is still the driving force.
As I peruse the app, I make several discoveries. It is part of its delight. The app seems tactile like a book and keeps me engaged in the topic. I can leave and come back to a different place to discover something new or start again from the beginning. I am intrigued by this platform for other photojournalists. Check out Once Magazine too, which feels like a great new frontier for photojournalism.
I enjoyed these short stories. They are a wonderful glimpse into someone’s life and heart. They are so short – just a flash-pop moment in time. The concept of Dear Photograph is touching and works on a level of nostalgia that gets me right away. A lot of the stories feel like a confessions or regret of sorts, and some are lovely messages to the departed. I think this is a good outlet to express or let those feeling go. It reminds me slightly of Sleeve Face, which is a different concept but worth checking out as well.
To be happy – I guess this is a quest that we all seek, to varying degrees. This documentary seems to explore the search for an answer to one of the hardest questions of all time. Perhaps viewing this will add to your personal happiness. Feb. 11 is World Happy Day. I hope that everyone is happy tomorrow and, if possible, every day after. It’s good for your health.
“Proceed and Be Bold” is a charming piece about a charming and interesting character, Amos, who is a printer. I was turned on to this documentary by a reader after I wrote about my love of the craft of letterpress printing.
The trailer is inviting, with a sense of humor that feels embracing. The clips made me want to know this person and his story. I really like his parents as characters.
Caption: Clockwise from top left: photo from Long Shadow of Chernobyl by Gerd Ludwig; photo from Dear Photograph, screen grab from “The Happy Movie”; image from ”Proceed and Be Bold.”
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