DPP Home Profiles Gerd Ludwig - At The Heart Of The Matter

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gerd Ludwig - At The Heart Of The Matter

Prominent photo ­­­journalist Gerd Ludwig embarks on a digital journey—and takes us with him

Streamlining The Process

Ludwig finds himself shooting predominantly with one digital body, the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. “I have a couple of backups, but I've never needed to use them.”

Because digital allows for changing white balance and film speed, shooting is less cumbersome. “I used to have two to three bodies around my neck and waist with different films and lenses so I would be ready for any situation,” he says, “but I don't need that with digital. I'm not afraid of changing lenses in the field, either. I just clean the sensor regularly.”

For a lot of photographers, the instant-review capability offered by a digital camera is quite useful. Chimping—reviewing a just-captured image to see if you got it—is ideal in some situations. Ludwig has another take on it. “I try not to look while I'm shooting. Chimping really interferes with the communication that you have with your subject and doesn't leave much room for serendipity.”

Besides streamlining the shooting process, Ludwig is also able to take his images, burn the best ones from a story onto a DVD and send them directly to foreign picture agencies. “This was a difficult thing with slides,” says Ludwig. “We used to send dupes to my agency in Germany, and then they would distribute them, but not without taking a cut of the resale value.”

By burning these DVDs, multiple copies are made, making it easier to send out. “I'm able to work more effectively with these agencies, and the percentage that used to go to the middleman now goes to me.”

Out In The Cold

Russia is Ludwig's favorite place to shoot, as it should be. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he documented the extensive changes in the vast country over a 10-year period. Exhibiting the country's growth, prosperity and social elite as well as uncovering the struggles of the poor and the environmental pollution's devastating effects on human development, Ludwig has become one with the country and finds himself akin to its people and culture.

“I'm gearing up for another round in Russia,” Ludwig tells me. “The country is ever-changing, and I'm ready to go back.”


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