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Help me create a compelling photo book from my 20-year-long coverage of the aftermath of Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on April 20, 2014.

Help me create a compelling photo book from my 20-year-long coverage of the aftermath of Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

About this project

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl is a long-term project I have worked on for over 20 years. I feel it is now time to culminate this coverage into a profound, high quality photo book, and I need your help to make it a reality.  

To be published by Edition Lammerhuber in Vienna, Austria, this will be a large-format hardcover book, with 118 images spanning 252 pages, measuring 11x12 inches. The book is trilingual - all text is translated for English, German and French. The book cover shows the original telex sent by the Soviet TASS agency to foreign press outlets two days after the disaster. An essay written by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev explores the historical context and impact of the Chernobyl disaster.

Redacted CIA documents, quotes from the book Voices from Chernobyl by the award winning Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich, and detailed captions give readers a broader understanding of the tragedy.

The book comes inside a hardcover slipcase, depicting a group of drill operators in gas masks heading into the failed reactor for their dangerous work. Because of the high radiation levels, their shift is limited to 15 minutes a day.

WHY DONATE?

This kind of quality book is expensive to produce, and these days, photo book publishing is often only possible if the printing costs are paid for in advance. Your support will ensure that this book is printed to the highest standards, using quality paper, ink, and binding. This is why I am reaching out to the Kickstarter community.

I want this photo book to stand as a complete document of this man-made disaster – to remember the countless victims of Chernobyl, and to warn future generations of the deadly consequences of human hubris.

 Thank you for your consideration and support.

     - Gerd Ludwig

ABOUT THE DISASTER

On April 26th, 1986, operators at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant botched a safety test, triggering the world's worst nuclear disaster to date. The radioactive fallout spread over tens of thousands of square miles, driving 350,000 people permanently from their homes. Initially, some 50 people died due to acute radiation syndrome, but the consequences did not end there. An area of 1,000 square miles around the failed reactor, named the Exclusion Zone, is fenced off and declared unfit for human habitation for the foreseeable future. An estimated 800,000 so-called liquidators were involved in the clean-up efforts, exposing themselves to high levels of radiation. Since the disaster, thousands of people have died as a result of overexposure to radiation, and still today, the long shadow of Chernobyl continues to darken lives.

For more information about the disaster, including a larger selection of my images, please watch a video presentation I made for the Look3 Festival of the Photograph:

ABOUT MY COVERAGE

Over the last twenty years I have entered into the Chernobyl Zone nine times. On assignment for National Geographic, I first visited Chernobyl in 1993 for a story exploring the lethal legacy of pollution in the Former Soviet Union. In 2005, I returned several times for a comprehensive cover story. During my visits I captured post-apocalyptic scenes of abandonment - trees growing through streets, schools rotting, and apartment buildings littered with the personal belongings left behind by those who hastily fled their homes in fear. In the Exclusion Zone, I photographed elderly returnees who, despite radiation, came back to live out their lives on their own soil. Inside the damaged reactor, I delved deeper than any Western documentary photographer. Outside of the Zone, I met the victims, from children suffering from physical and mental disorders, to those affected by the dramatic rise in cancers in the nuclear fallout areas of Ukraine and Belarus.

In 2011, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the disaster the Kickstarter community sent me back to Chernobyl to continue my coverage. These images lead to several exhibitions in Europe and the release of my award winning iPad App, The Long Shadow of Chernobyl, an interactive digital photo book.

While I returned to Chernobyl in March 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami in Japan, causing the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I was with one Chernobyl liquidator as news of the disaster flashed on screen.

The accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is a powerful reminder that disasters like Chernobyl are a possible outcome of nuclear power — anytime, anywhere.

Most recently I returned to the Zone in 2013 with some support from the Kulturwerk/VG Bild-Kunst, a German artists’ rights organization. This time I focused on scenes I may never be able to photograph again, as the image of the towering Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant will soon be gone. A second encasement, called the New Safe Confinement, will make the well-known image of the reactor disappear forever under a high-tech dome. This dome will help shield the reactor from further deterioration as robots begin the delicate dismantling and decontamination process.

On this trip I went deeper inside the damaged reactor than ever before. In some rooms, the radiation levels were still so high, I had mere seconds to capture a few frames. Here a clock is frozen at the exact time of the accident, 1:23:58 AM.

While robots carefully dismantle the reactor, time and nature are taking their toll elsewhere in the Exclusion Zone. In the abandoned city of Pripyat the buildings are in danger of collapsing, and in the nearly 200 small villages, vines encroach on the empty farmhouses.

Ultimately, however, at the core of my photographs are the people who continue to suffer this tragedy. I am driven by the duty to act in the name of these silent victims, to give them a voice with my pictures in this book. They let me in to their lives and allowed me to expose their suffering in the hope of preventing future tragedies like Chernobyl.

 THE REWARDS

As a 'Thank You' for helping make this book a reality, everyone who donates $10 or more will receive a shout-out on The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Facebook Page and Website. Plus, your name will be included in every exhibition of the work in the next 4 years. Names will be posted as they come in each week!

A Postcard 'Thank You,' printed in Los Angeles, personalized to you and signed by Gerd Ludwig. Expect it around early May.

A Special Edition Poster signed by Gerd Ludwig. Shipping within the US included. Arrives in May

Get the original Special Edition Poster for Gerd's 2011 Kickstarter Project, plus the new poster for 2014, both signed by Gerd Ludwig. Shipping within the US included. Expect delivery in May.

A signed copy of Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR, Gerd Ludwig's first monograph covering the Former Soviet Union. Expect it to arrive in May.

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl, signed by Gerd Ludwig plus an exclusive 5x7 work print for Kickstarter Backers only. Includes the cost of shipping anywhere in North America and Europe only. Expect the book in May.

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl, signed by Gerd Ludwig plus an exclusive 5x7 work print for Kickstarter Backers only. Includes the additional cost of international shipping outside North America and Europe. Expect the book in May/June.

An hour-long portfolio review by renowned National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig, in person at his office in Los Angeles, or online via Skype.

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Special Edition comes with a signed and editioned 8x12" fine art print, only 100 will be printed. Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Kickstarter Backers receive it below the final retail value. Includes shipping within North America and Europe only and will arrive in May. Limited to 50 backers.

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Special Edition comes with a signed and editioned 8x12" fine art print, only 100 will be printed. Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Kickstarter Backers receive it below the final retail value. Includes the additional cost of international shipping outside North America and Europe. Expect the book in May/June. Limited to 50 backers.

Documenting with Personal Vision is an intensive 5-day workshop taking place at Gerd's home in Los Angeles during MOPLA, April 10-14, and is designed to help photographers take their craft to the next level. Backing at this levels guarantees your spot and also includes a signed book. Learn more about the workshop here. Limited to 3 backers.

A limited edition 20x24" fine art print, signed and editioned by Gerd Ludwig, plus the book. Edition is limited to 25 and each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Your name will be listed as a Sponsor on The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Facebook Page, Website, and every exhibition for the next 4 years. Expect delivery in May/June. Includes shipping within the US. Limited to 25 backers.

A 3-day one-on-one workshop with Gerd Ludwig, plus a signed copy of the book. Travel expenses outside of Greater Los Angeles not included. Your name will be listed as a Sponsor on The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Facebook PageWebsite, and every exhibition for the next 4 years. Expect book delivery in May.  Includes shipping within the US. Limited to 3 backers.

A presentation by Gerd Ludwig at your company or organization, discussing Chernobyl or life as a National Geographic photographer, plus 5 signed copies of the book. Travel expenses outside of Greater Los Angeles not included. Your company or organization will be listed as a Sponsor on The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Facebook PageWebsite, and every exhibition for the next 4 years. Limited to 3 backers.

Thank you to sound mixer and pianist Matthew Sanchez for your help in producing the Kickstarter video.

Risks and challenges

After previously running a Kickstarter campaign, I am fully aware of the challenges presented by fulfilling the rewards, and have set aside the time and accounted for the resources necessary for the packaging and shipping.

The book will be shipped from Los Angeles or Vienna, and the cost for shipping such a large and heavy book is quite high. I have therefore had to separate my rewards structure to accommodate the extra cost for backers outside North America and Europe. I appreciate your understanding and for choosing the correct reward level for the book.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    54 backers

    // CREDIT: Your name listed as a donor on the Facebook Page, Website, and every Exhibition for the next 4 years.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    32 backers

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: A postcard thank you note signed by Gerd Ludwig. Shipping included.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    14 backers Limited (136 left of 150)

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: A Special Edition Poster signed by Gerd Ludwig. Shipping within the US included.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $75 or more

    2 backers Limited (148 left of 150)

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: Two posters! Get the original Special Edition Poster for Gerd's 2011 Kickstarter Project, plus the new poster for 2014, both signed by Gerd Ludwig. Shipping within the US included.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    10 backers Limited (90 left of 100)

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level. //GOODIES: A signed copy of Gerd Ludwig's first retrospective covering the former Soviet Union, Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $150 or more

    205 backers

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: The Long Shadow of Chernobyl book, signed by Gerd Ludwig. Includes shipping ***TO USA, CANADA AND EUROPE ONLY***

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $180 or more

    30 backers

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: The Long Shadow of Chernobyl book, signed by Gerd Ludwig. Includes shipping ***TO OUTSIDE USA, CANADA, AND EUROPE***

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    3 backers Limited (22 left of 25)

    //CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: An hour-long portfolio review by National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig, either in person at his office in Los Angeles, or online via Skype.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $550 or more

    5 backers Limited (20 left of 25)

    // CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Special Edition comes with a signed and editioned 8x12" fine art print, only 100 will be printed. Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Kickstarter Backers receive it below the final retail value. Includes shipping ***TO USA, CANADA AND EUROPE ONLY***

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $580 or more

    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    // CREDIT: Same as $10 level.
    //GOODIES: The Long Shadow of Chernobyl Special Edition comes with a signed and editioned 8x12" fine art print, only 100 will be printed. Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Kickstarter Backers receive it below the final retail value. Includes shipping ***TO OUTSIDE USA, CANADA, AND EUROPE***

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,350 or more

    0 backers Limited (25 left of 25)

    //CREDIT: Your name listed as a Sponsor on the Facebook Page, Website, and every exhibition for the next 4 years.
    //GOODIES: A limited edition 20x24" fine art print, signed and editioned by Gerd Ludwig, plus the book. Edition is limited to 25 and each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $4,500 or more

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    //CREDIT: Your name listed as a Sponsor on the Facebook Page, Website, and every exhibition for the next 4 years.
    //GOODIES: A 3-day one-on-one workshop with Gerd Ludwig plus a signed copy of the book. Travel expenses outside of Greater Los Angeles not included.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $6,000 or more

    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    //CREDIT: Your company or organization's name listed as a Sponsor on the Facebook Page, Website, and every exhibition for the next 4 years.
    //GOODIES: A presentation by Gerd Ludwig at your company or organization, discussing Chernobyl or life as a National Geographic photographer, plus 5 signed copies of the book. Travel expenses outside of Greater Los Angeles not included.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (60 days)