Self-taught conflict photographer wins Dorothea Lange Fellowship

Photo by Kyle Ludowitz

Kyle Ludowitz was an undergraduate at Evergreen College when he saw the work of a photojournalist who covered conflict and war. A light switch went off, says Ludowitz, now a grad student in photography at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. “I talked to the photojournalist who inspired me and he said, ‘Just go and do it.’ “ Ludowitz bought a used Nikon and a one-way ticket to Palestine, and has never looked back.

Since then he’s traveled to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Syria. He was in Aleppo for the 2014 bombing campaigns. He’s also photographed natural disasters in Thailand and the Myanmar borderlands where land mines are an ongoing danger. Images from his first trip, to Palestine, won him the annual Lange award, which honors a giant of American documentary photography and encourages the use of photography in scholarly work at Berkeley.

With his Lange fellowship award, Ludowitz plans to tell the tale, photographically, of a conflict closer at home — the ongoing and divisive issue of immigration along the U.S. border with Mexico. He plans to chronicle stories told less often, including the lives of those who try to prevent immigrants from entering the country, including federal agents and militias.

“I don’t think we see their story at all,” he says. “People in the Berkeley liberal bubble are more interested in hearing the immigrant stories. I want to tell the story from the other side, that shows law enforcement people who think they’re doing the best job they can for their country.“

Read more about Ludowitz and the Dorothea Lange Fellowship