Atomic Photographers Guild

The Atomic Photographers Guild is an international collective of independent photographers dedicated to making visible all facets of the nuclear age. Founded in 1987 by Robert Del Tredici, Carole Gallagher and Harris Fogel, Guild members focus on the impact and legacy of the atomic age with an emphasis on nuclear weapons development, production, testing, and deployment—as well as the movements to abolish them. Members also document the nuclear power industry, reactor accidents, nuclear waste, irradiated landscapes and their populations, and the health effects associated with exposure to ionising radiation.

Since its formation, the Guild has amassed an archive of photographic negatives and prints from more than forty photographers across seven decades. The collection begins in 1945 with the world’s first two atomic photographers, Berlyn Brixner (United States) and Yoshito Matsushige (Japan). Brixner was the head photographer of the first atomic bomb blast—known as the "Trinity Test”—in the Alamogordo desert of New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Three weeks later, Matsushige, a photojournalist and military photographer, was 2.7 kilometres away from the Hiroshima bomb’s hypocentre at the time of the atomic bomb's detonation. Despite his own trauma, he managed to take a handful of photographs and inadvertently became the only person to document the destruction of Hiroshima from inside that city on August 6, 1945.

In addition to the works of Brixner and Matsushige, the Guild’s founder, Robert Del Tredici, documented the destroyed Three Mile Island nuclear reactor TMI-2 in 1979, the United States’ nuclear weapons complex through the 1980s, uranium mining, nuclear waste sites and atomic survivors in Canada, the US, Japan and the former USSR. Other prominent Guild holdings include works by Carole Gallagher focused on the down-winders in southern Utah living under clouds of atomic fallout from the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s and early 60s (1993); works by Igor Kostin, the first photographer to document the Chernobyl disaster (2006); and works by David McMillan, who has extensively documented its aftermath (2019). Additional members work in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, India, Russia and Japan.

The Guild’s growing membership engages ethical, ecological, historical, and scientific dimensions of the nuclear era. Through exhibitions, publications, and lectures, Guild members actively disseminate their work, collectively assembling a picture of what could be our darkest, most enduring legacy.