Banned photographer defends taking pictures at swimming pool

Photo: Jed Felix

The photographer in Fargo who was banned from the city’s swimming pools for taking pictures of people without their knowledge says the publicity has ruined his life. Kirk Ludwig also says he’s “pretty sure” he’s going to lose his job.

The police reviewed the pictures on his camera and there was nothing inappropriate. They haven’t charged him with a crime. And yet his image was spread around town and even an off-duty cop, writing on social media, suggested someone should “stomp his guts out.”

Granted it looks creepy, but what if he’s not the pedophile he was presumed to be? What if he’s just an artist taking pictures?

“There were no kids in any of the pictures,” he tells the Fargo Forum of the pictures he took at a city swimming pool. “I reviewed the photos and there were no kids, in any of them.”

In his interview with The Forum, Ludwig said he practices “candid street photography,” in which subjects do not know they are being photographed. He said he “learned a hard lesson” this week.

“What might be OK and normal behavior in a big city is just interpreted as weird and creepy in a small city,” he said.

Ludwig said he likes shooting all sorts of subjects, he said, including landscapes and buildings. But he has another, more unusual interest: expression photography.

He finds a subject – someone in public who does not notice him – and points his camera at the person.

“I wait for them to see me, and then I take the shot,” he said. “I do want to be seen eventually. That’s pretty much the only picture that’s of value to me, is the one when they see me.”

Ludwig was avoiding attention because he did not want the diver to see him – that way, he could capture a natural picture.

The executive director of Fargo Parks District says he feels bad for the publicity the photographer has received, but it could’ve been avoided if authorities had received a “heads up” what he was planning on doing.