Introduction by Dirck Halstead
A Multimedia Presentation of

During the Palm Beach Photo Workshop earlier this year, I was privileged to view an exhibit of portraits of Russians by photographer Robert Wallis. What struck me at the time was how vivid the characters were. The subjects were iconic. There was no doubt about their who they were, where they lived, or what they did. Each face conveyed a story, each the result of living in a society undergoing tremendous changes and pressures. In the months since, I had an opportunity to review the work of National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig, who has spent substantial amounts of time photographing Russia in the past few years. The visual strength of his images added to my feeling that it was time to explore Russia as a photographic study in the page of The Digital Journalist.

Most of the photojournalism shot during the Communist era of the Soviet Union was not permitted to be seen abroad. It came as a great surprise therefore, in the mid '80s, when LIFE published a portfolio of photographs taken by Russian combat cameramen during World War II. It was as though a new window had been opened to view this historic period.

About that time, I was in Moscow as one of a team of international photographers producing the book "A Day In The Life of the Soviet Union." At a reception I was introduced to the dean of Soviet photojournalism, Dimitri Baltermans. I couldn't wait to tell him how much I admired a photograph he taken during World War II, depicting the carnage at the gates of Moscow during the German siege. He told me that as a TAAS photographer, every morning he would drive to the front lines from Moscow, a distance of less than 10 miles, to photograph the aftermath of the battles fought the night before. One of his images of a mother grieving over her dead son was one of the most gripping of the war. I asked him if it would possible to get a signed print, and he told me would be happy to make me one. However, in the days I had left in Moscow, I never saw again. Several years later I was back, this time as part of the White House press corps with Ronald Reagan, and on snowy night there was a knock on my hotel door. When I opened it, I was shocked to see Baltermans, pale and shivering. He handed me a package. It contained the print, which he had signed. Somehow, although sick, he had managed to find me. Two weeks later he died. The print is now one of my prized possessions.

This feature started with the essays of Wallis and Ludwig. Neither man is Russian. Washington Post staff photographer Lucian Perkins, who has been one of the organizers of Interphoto, an international photo festival in Moscow held for the past years, has written an essay looking at an overview of Russian photojournalism today. Most importantly, during the coming festival which will be held later this month, Lucian will be working with Russian photojournalists, and inviting them to submit their work for a special gallery that will be opened on the pages of The Digital Journalist. We hope that they will contribute, and share their work and experiences with us all.

Enter Gerd Ludwig's "The Broken Empire"
Click on the photo to enter each story.

Changing Tides
Soviet Polution
The Cossacks
Trans-Siberian Railroad
Russian Portraits
by Robert Wallis
Russian  Photography
by Lucian Perkins

Contents Editorials The Platypus Links Copyright
Portfolios Camera Corner War Stories  Dirck's Gallery Comments
Issue Archives Columns Forums Mailing List E-mail The DJ
 This site is sponsored and powered by Hewlett Packard