The following year he co-founded VISUM, Germany’s first photographer-owned photo agency, and began working for publications such as Geo, Stern, Spiegel, Time, and Life. Soon after moving to New York in the mid 1980s, Gerd Ludwig started photographing for National Geographic Magazine. His focus on environmental issues and the socio-economic changes following the dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in a book, Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR, a ten-year retrospective published by National Geographic in 2001, and an iPad App, The Long Shadow of Chernobyl, published by Lightbox Press in 2011.
Now based in Los Angeles, Gerd Ludwig continues to photograph primarily for National Geographic, occasionally shooting advertising, while exhibiting, lecturing, and teaching workshops internationally. He is the recipient of the Lucie Award for International Photographer of the Year in 2006, and a member of National Geographic Creative.