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On TIME Lightbox: See NATO’s Massive Training Exercises in Eastern Europe

TIME Photo
June 19, 2015

Associated Press TIME Photo

“The big buzz word was interoperability.”

Sergeant Stephen Murphy with the Fourth of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team monitors an airdrop from a C-17 aircraft that took off from Nuremberg, Germany before it drops members of his unit at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 15, 2015.  NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise "Saber Strike," the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

Sergeant Stephen Murphy with the Fourth of the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment of the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team monitors an airdrop from a C-17 aircraft that took off from Nuremberg, Germany before it drops members of his unit at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland on June 15, 2015. NATO is engaged in a multilateral training exercise “Saber Strike,” the first time Poland has hosted such war games, involving the militaries of Canada, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and the United States.

Thousands of NATO troops took part in a two-week exercise in Poland and the Baltic states, practicing sea landings, airlifts and assaults, the Associated Press reports.

The series of massive maneuvers, each with its own code name, took place on NATO’s eastern flank and in the Baltic Sea, where 5,000 troops from 17 NATO and partner nations took part in the maritime BALTOPS exercises. This year, the naval maneuvers took place without Russia.

Freelance photographer Amanda Rivkin was embedded with multi-national troops in Drawsko Pomorskie, a northwestern Polish town. “The big buzz word was interoperability,” she said, referring to NATO’s goal to show that its members can cooperate in the face of a potential crisis. “This is clearly being done as a show of force against Russia’s show of force in Crimea and in the Baltic,” she added.

Polish and Baltic state leaders have made it clear that they want to host large numbers of U.S. and NATO forces as a deterrent in the face of a resurgent Russia, the AP reports. “We must know how to defend ourselves. It is our goal to assure a stable order,” said Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna.

Telluride Mountainfilm Wrap-Up + Press

Images of postwar Bosnia's reconstruction on exhibit at the Aa Haa West Gallery during the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colorado on May 22, 2015.

Images of postwar Bosnia’s reconstruction on exhibit at the Aa Haa West Gallery during the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colorado on May 22, 2015.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was in Telluride, Colorado for the Mountainfilm Festival thanks to the support of National Geographic Expeditions Council and the Young Explorers Grant Program. It was a fantastic weekend spent in the company of some great friends, and when it was over and our presentations complete, we sat down and watched my beloved “politics by another means” Eurovision Song Contest. But once it was really over, the local indy paper, the San Juan Independent, came knocking and sent over some questions for a Q + A. Here are the parts that are relevant generally to photography today:

[…]

Q: As a photographer, how do you believe technology has and will affect the field of photojournalism, if at all? Specifically, we are seeing more advanced cameras and equipment at more affordable prices, including GoPros and camera phones, and more “average Joe’s” being able to capture images and moments they could not years ago. Is this a good thing for photojournalism and photography or does it have a negative impact?

A: A photojournalist is not a guy with an iPhone recording a police shooting of an unarmed black man, but what that guy produces, that level of documentation, is photojournalism. Photography is about ways of seeing, not merely seeing. I think prices for photography of a certain level are very low, lower than they have ever been. Photography is about how we see and the way we produce a narrative to relay the truth as we interpret it with regard to contemporary events and lives.

Q: Why do you do what you do? What are the things you find most rewarding about your work? What project have you completed that has had the biggest impact on you personally?

A: This is a very hard question because every day we are challenged by continuing to do what we do. Economic circumstances in the industry right now are terrible and nearly every photographer has supplementary income that is tangential to the photography or an extension of it. I do what I do because I believe in the need for physical documentation of historical events because memory betrays us all too often. do not hope or expect change. I actually believe and fully expect most things will get worse while a modicum of things will improve slightly. What I hope for with my work is to serve the broader purpose of historical memory.

Q: What are the most substantial challenges you and your peers face as photojournalists? Do you believe the hurdles you face would have been the same or similar years ago, or are there circumstances in the present that cause different problems?

A: Right now there is a certain crisis of truth, which we saw come to the fore with the recent World Press photo scandal with a haphazard investigation after the organization stood by a photographer who placed a flashlight in a car while his cousin fornicated and called it a found moment. Eventually the work was disqualified because it turns out it was not even where the photographer said it was. There are more flaks than ever and the language of the war on terror has completely obfuscated even simple dialogues about random acts of violence. Every era has its challenges; this era has many.

Q: What challenges do you imagine photojournalists might face in the future?

A: Depending on where you are in the world and what the security situation is, photojournalists experience different types of peril. As our own security weakens or strengthens, I believe we can look around the world in order to figure out what to expect.

[…]

Q: Generally speaking, what is the future, or the fate, of photojournalism? Many people seem to believe print journalism will eventually become obsolete. Do you believe photojournalism could be headed down the same path, or does the medium transcend?

A: It depends on what your pictures look like and the paucity and historicity of what you photograph. People love documentation because it has a validating effect on our lives. I don’t believe this tendency of humanity will change anytime soon.

And here is a short 30 second video tour of my show at Telluride Mountainfilm:

Telluride MountainFilm Festival 2015 with National Geographic Young Explorers

Sephardic Jews pray in the Ashkenazi Synagogue on shabbat in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 17, 2014.  Jewish community leader Jakob Finci (second from right) placed the number of Jewish people left in Sarajevo at 700; part of the Shabbat service is in Ladino, an old dialect of Spanish that Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 took with them to their new homes across the Mediterranean world.

Sephardic Jews pray in the Ashkenazi Synagogue on shabbat in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 17, 2014. Jewish community leader Jakob Finci (second from right) placed the number of Jewish people left in Sarajevo at 700; part of the Shabbat service is in Ladino, an old dialect of Spanish that Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 took with them to their new homes across the Mediterranean world.

This weekend I will be in Telluride, Colorado attending the Telluride MountainFilm Festival as a guest of the National Geographic Society (NGS). NGS is a festvial co-sponsor and supporter and has contributed a range of talent and programming to this year’s MountainFilm Festival, including a presentation of photographs by recipients of their Young Explorers Grant.

If you are attending Telluride MountainFilm, please join me after 3:30pm Friday May 22 for the Gallery Walk or Sunday afternoon from 12-2pm for presentations by Young Explorers at the Sheridan Opera House. Additionally, Cara Eckholm, who I traveled to Bosnia with in October of last year and with whom I will be presenting on Sunday, will be featured in “Coffee and Conversation” with Ambassador Christopher Hill and Festival Director David Holbrooke (and son of Richard Holbrooke) very early Sunday morning at 8am at the Hotel Telluride.

*InstArchive* on Instagram

I’m trying something new because I’m American and tradition is boring we are made to think/believe/made to think is make believe. Everyday on my Instagram (@amandarivkin) I am posting a new image from my archive that is paired with a bit of “on this day in world history”. It’s how I’m taking it to the streets, building the ol’ personal brand, sharing my love of history, and finding meaning in my own work. It’s only a few days old but already we’ve been to Davenport, Iowa; Baku, Azerbaijan; Reyhanli, Turkey and today Spotsylvania, Virginia. Czech it out!

MAY 9:

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On May 9, 2012, Obama announced his support for gay marriage in a television interview with Robin Roberts.

In this image from my archive, witness Connie Fuller, 39, takes a picture of Rock Island, Illinois couple (l-r) Curtis Harris, 50, and Daren Adkisson, 39, after they picked up their marriage license first thing in the morning at the Scott County Recorder’s Office the first day same sex weddings are legal across Iowa in Davenport, Iowa on April 27, 2009. In the years since I took this picture, I’ve stayed in touch with the gentlemen and learned that after this picture of them appeared several times in @nytimes and hundreds of newspapers across America, Curtis became the first employee of the Kraft Food Company to receive health benefits for his same-sex partner after he was summoned to human resources at the plant where he worked and was informed Daren was eligible for coverage. At the time, Daren had cancer and is alive today thanks to the generous benefits and a chance reencounter with a cousin in another state who saw the picture and who connected him to one of the best cancer doctors for treatment.

MAY 10:

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On this day, May 10, Heydar Aliyev, the “national leader” of Azerbaijan and father of the current president, Ilham Aliyev, was born in 1923. If the old man were alive today, he would be 92, but he died in 2003 at the Cleveland Clinic, officially after his son was elected president. The day is commemorated in Azerbaijan as “Flower Day,” which was a tactic employed by the CHP, Turkey’s Republican People’s Party, following the death of Atatürk to bring Atatürk’s birthday gradually to the level of national holiday, which is celebrated May 19 as a commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day in Turkey.

A young girl touches a framed portrait of Heydar Aliyev made of carpet on display but not for sale at a concession stand during Novruz in the old city of Baku, Azerbaijan on March 20, 2012.

MAY 11:
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On May 11, 2013, two car bombs detonated in the town of Reyhanli on the Turkish-Syrian border, killing 43 in the town just a stones throw from the chaos of the Syrian civil war.

Pictured here, Syrian refugee children play in a junkyard of old, abandoned and destroyed vehicles at the entrance to the Reyhanli tent city in Reyhanli, Turkey on February 26, 2012.

MAY 12:
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On May 12, 1864, this was the site of some of the most intense fighting in the American Civil War during the Battle of Spotsylvania in Spotsylvania, Virginia, the second major battle in Lt Gen Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign. On May 12, Grant ordered 15,000 soldiers to attack the Confederates and the result involved almost 24 hours of intense combat with close contact and defeat.

Pictured here retired US Army General Montgomery Meigs indicates the physical structure of the trenches during what is known as a “Staff Ride” (a tour of former battle sites) when I was in graduate school for security studies at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service on September 26, 2009. Meigs is the great-great-great-grandnephew of Montgomery C. Meigs, a Quartermaster General who served the Union in the US Army during and after the American Civil War; Meigs served in Vietnam, during the Persian Gulf War and the US intervention in Bosnia.

And if you live a connected life, you know the routine by now: share, like, follow, eat, pray (or not), love.

Millennials Who Live At Home for Newsweek

Last week, my friend, photo editor Mike Ip at Newsweek, assigned me to find and photograph millennials in the Chicago area who currently live at home. The Great Recession has drastically altered the financial and social calculus for many of my generation whose careers do not fall under the corporate or finance realm (albeit in the early days of the Great Recession, these industries took a significant hit as well). While the U.S. government monthly jobs report show ever increasing employment numbers, behind these uplifting stats belies an uncomfortable truth that many of these jobs are part-time and offer few, if any benefits. Consequently, the independence of American adult life as it was known in the postwar period whereby you turn 18 and are on your own is not totally at play any more as many, many young people lean on family in various ways, from shelter to mealtime. As someone who has spent about one-fifth of my life in various European countries where this is quite the norm unless economic circumstances forces you abroad in search of better employment opportunities and salaries, I actually think the outcome of a less independent, wholly selfish society could potentially be very positive.

The pictures below ran online on the Newsweek website. Special thanks to Jake Armstrong, David Braun, Clayton Hauck, and Gigi Silverstein-Tapp for trusting me to bother your people with my camera.

Natasha Rodriguez, 26, plays with her niece Alyson, 10 months, while her mother, Alison, 48, looks on in her parents house where she lives in their refurbished basement in the Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois on April 23, 2015.  Rodriguez works for a bio-pharma company and at a pediatrician's office on the weekends while working towards her master's in nursing education.

Natasha Rodriguez, 26, plays with her niece Alyson, 10 months, while her mother, Alison, 48, looks on in her parents house where she lives in their refurbished basement in the Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois on April 23, 2015. Rodriguez works for a bio-pharma company and at a pediatrician’s office on the weekends while working towards her master’s in nursing education.

Mike Padgett, 30, stands beside his bunk beds in his bedroom in Chicago Ridge, Illinois on April 21, 2015.  Padgett lives at home with his extended family while studying at University of Illinois Chicago and doing an externship in the neuroscience imaging and microscopy lab and bar tends at the Drum and Monkey on campus for extra cash.

Mike Padgett, 30, stands beside his bunk beds in his bedroom in Chicago Ridge, Illinois on April 21, 2015. Padgett lives at home with his extended family while studying at University of Illinois Chicago and doing an externship in the neuroscience imaging and microscopy lab and bar tends at the Drum and Monkey on campus for extra cash.

Debbie Tobar and daughter Bianca Tobar, 25, make dinner together in the kitchen of the family's house in the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois on April 22, 2015.  Tobar works as an administrative assistant a doctor at a medical center.

Debbie Tobar and daughter Bianca Tobar, 25, make dinner together in the kitchen of the family’s house in the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois on April 22, 2015. Tobar works as an administrative assistant a doctor at a medical center.

Postwar Bosnia for National Geographic Young Explorers to Telluride Mountainfilm Festival

Driving a commuter train from Sarajevo to Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 20, 2014. Photo by Jasmina Koluh

Driving a commuter train from Sarajevo to Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 20, 2014. Photo by Jasmina Koluh

Thanks to National Geographic, the work I shot on Bosnia’s postwar reconstruction last October will be shown for the first time at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival in May! The festival director is Richard Holbrooke’s son, David Holbrooke, so now I am indebted to both father and son for what they have done for Bosnia.