VII is pleased to welcome four new photographers to the VII Mentor Program: Gazi Nafis Ahmed (based in Bangladesh), Laura El-Tantawy (based in London and Cairo), Jošt Franko (based in Slovenia) and Amanda Rivkin (based in Azerbaijan).
Gazi Nafis Ahmed is a documentary photographer born in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He sees Bangladesh as a place with many social, political, economic and environmental challenges, and feels compelled to use photography to document the constant changes and impact the collective state of mind of the people.
After graduating from Bangladesh International Tutorial High School in 2003, Ahmed continued his education at the London Guildhall University in Art & Design. He received a B.A. with Honors in 2008 from Pathshala, the South Asian Media Academy, with his final semester conducted abroad at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Ahmed will be mentored by John Stanmeyer.
Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer living between Cairo and London. She was born in Worcestershire, England to Egyptian parents and grew up between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) with a dual degree in journalism and political science.
El-Tantawy started as a newspaper photographer based in the U.S., and later began working freelance to pursue personal projects. El-Tantawy’s photographic interest lies in exploring social and political issues, particularly those pertaining to her background. In 2010 she accepted a fellowship at the University of Oxford to research and write about freedom of expression under
the government of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Her work has been published and exhibited in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and has been recognized by several international awards. El-Tantawy will be mentored by Ed Kashi.
Jošt Franko is a young documentary photographer born in Slovenia in 1993. His work is mostly focused on long term projects exploring domestic and international social issues, and his themes often touch on the loss of traditional values in the modern world.
Franko’s vision in photography is to document the world, and to thereby unfold, discover and understand it. He believes that his youth and curiosity drive him to pick up themes that are easily and often overlooked.
Franko’s work has been published by Time Magazine and NPR, and exhibited in London, New York, Tel Aviv and Ljubljana. His work has also been recognized twice by the Slovenia Press Photo Reportage of the Year awards.
In October 2012, he will begin his studies in journalism in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana. Franko will be mentored by Christopher Morris.
Amanda Rivkin is an American photojournalist based in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Rivkin began her career as a print journalism intern at the Associated Press in Madrid in 2007, and later spent time developing several photography projects in Ethiopia and her hometown of Chicago. Between 2008-2009 she covered the Midwest region of the United States focusing on local politics, the financial crisis and social issues with The New York Times as a primary client. She soon began working on assignment for clients such as Courrier Japan, The Financial Times, Le Monde and Newsweek.
In 2009 she received a merit-based scholarship to Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service for security studies, and began to focus on photographing abroad. Rivkin received a Young Explorers Grant from the National Geographic Society in 2010 to photograph life along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. In 2011 she was awarded a Fulbright fellowship in photography to return to Azerbaijan. Rivkin will be mentored by Ron Haviv.