All posts filed under: Awards

Columbia Journalism Review: A photojournalist tells the stories of Chicago police torture victims

Jackie Spinner, a professor at Columbia College who has invited me to speak to her international reporting classes several times and ex-Washington Post correspondent in Baghdad and elsewhere, wrote the first little bit of press about my current oral history and portrait project on victims of Chicago municipal police torture under former Commander Jon Burge. Burge was on active duty with the Chicago Police Department from 1973-1991 and subsequently fired in 1993 after an array of crimes involving the abuse of suspects in custody were exposed on his watch, including but not limited to beatings, burning and electro-torture. Graciously, Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has ran a couple of the press photographs including one of Marvin Reeves, a man so gentle he was like an uncle when we spoke for nearly two hours in his sister’s Bronzeville apartment. He received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of Chicago for the injustices done to him. From Jackie’s article: Now Rivkin, who grew up in the city, plans to spend the next year photographing these men and …

IWMF Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists Grant for “Burge Victims Speak”

Thrilled to announce for the first time in my life, I am being given a grant by the International Women’s Media Fund (IWMF) Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists to stay home and work. I’ll be spending the next year at least in Chicago interviewing and photographing survivors of municipal police torture under former Commander Jon Burge, who imported techniques such as electrotorture which he learned as a military police officer in Vietnam onto the streets of Chicago for nearly 20 years to force confessions from 1972 until he was suspended from the force in 1991 and fired in 1993. He later served four years for perjury but still receives a full city pension. Very special thanks to everyone who has lent time, expertise, knowledge, and patience to this project so far, there are many of you to thank and a few of you who would rather I didn’t but know you have helped tremendously and I am filled with gratitude.

Etem Erol, 1955-2016

The last message I had from Etem hoca was just a few days before he passed away. I had a night layover in Istanbul on my way to Odessa for two months and I asked if he wanted to join some friends for dinner, so naturally I invited Etem, as I had not been back to the city I called home for two years in over a year. He wrote to say he regretted he could not make it that he was leaving early that same morning for Bulgaria with his brother. It was in Bulgaria, I came to learn just a few nights ago from a classmate and fellow student in his Elementary Turkish I class so many years ago, that he had a heart attack and died in his brother’s arms. He was so young, 60, and with so much life and so much still to give. I write this with tears streaming down my face and it’s been more than a day now since I heard this really excruciatingly painful news. It …

The Importance of Memory and World Press Photo’s “Contemporary Issues”

“The struggle of man against power is the act of memory against forgetting.” -Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting I have my own personal reasons for choosing to photograph over other mediums, for believing that we must look sometimes even when we are more often compelled not to. The collective memory of societies around the world relies on aesthetics, whether represented through flags, leaders, advertising and propaganda or news photographs. Only the last can claim to attempt to accurately reflect the conditions of all citizens but especially the disenfranchised, even if so often the focus is on podiums and the powerful. Earlier this month, World Press Photo announced the results of its annual competition. Shortly thereafter, the mayor of the Belgian city of Charleroi sent the Amsterdam-based foundation a letter stating his objections to an essay entitled “Dark Heart of Europe” that depicted his town as some sort of desolate sex-depraved locale where fetish and fantasy were expressions of current realities. Many of the scenes in the photographs were simply staged through a …

Columbia Journalism School Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma 2014 Ochberg Fellowship

I have been named a 2014 Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma Ochberg Fellow along with some other pretty seriously accomplished journalists. It means, among other things, that I will be in New York for a week or so in January. It also means I will get advice and gain wisdom from some of the foremost experts on trauma as it impacts journalists. In the past, I attended two events co-sponsored by the Dart Center, a workshop on veterans at the Carter Center in Atlanta and a journalism and trauma workshop in Istanbul that I photographed as well. The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, along with the Rory Peck Trust, have proven to be the gold standard in resources for journalists covering traumatic issues. I am indebted to them and the work they do.

Explorers Journal: Views of Sarajevo From Young Explorers

The Explorers Journal blog of National Geographic featured late last week a teaser post about a project I have been working on with recently named Young Explorer Cara Eckholm in Bosnia and Herzegovina on cultural heritage preservation and postwar reconstruction, “Views of Sarajevo From Young Explorers“: National Geographic Young Explorers Grantees Cara Eckholm and Amanda Rivkin have been on the ground in Sarajevo this month. They’re pursing the story of the new urban landscape in Sarajevo, delving into the triumphs and tensions of a city that not long ago was ravaged by war. Through interviews with Sarajevo’s citizens Cara and Amanda are investigating battles over public monuments and museums, the complications of the foreign investments funding the rebuilding, and other stories from every corner of the historic city.

2013 Poynter Fellowship at Yale University

A few months back, I was notified that I was named the recipient of a Poynter Fellowship at Yale University to give a talk this fall on my work photographing “Protests, Pipelines + Women” in Turkey and Azerbaijan at Yale University. I will be joined by economics professor Tolga Koker. The talk is sponsored by the University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. The date is now set for October 1, 2013 at 4pm in Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, Yale University. The talk is free and open to the public. More information is available on the Yale University website. Yale Daily News article, “Photojournalist Discusses Travels, Gender“.

Look3 Festival of the Photograph: Masterclass Street Smart with Bruce Gilden

For the past week, I have been fortunate to take Bruce Gilden’s Look3 Masterclass Workshop Street Smart and attend the Look3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia. Leica and Canon provided generous support for the tuition-free workshop. In addition to their support, I was lucky to have been invited here by National Geographic Society’s Expeditions Council. They were also nice enough to take a few of us Young Explorers Grant recipients out to dinner along with National Geographic Magazine photographer Carsten Peter who spoke about some of his assignments that involved chasing and being jolted by lightning as well as his favorite vulcanoes. Thank you to everyone who supported my trip to Look3 this year! Here is my favorite image from the workshop which I produced for our street photography portrait assignments that will be projected in the pavilion at the start of tonight’s slide presentations at 9pm at the end of the downtown mall in Charlottesville.

National Geographic Young Explorers Bio and Q+A

Explorers Bio Amanda Rivkin Photographer Young Explorers Grants, Expeditions Council Grant Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois Current City: Baku, Azerbaijan What did you want to be when you were growing up? When I was very small, maybe seven years old, I told my godmother I wanted to be a crane, and when she asked what kind of crane, I said an operating crane like on a construction site. As a teenager, I thought I would be a writer, which is what led me to go to the college I eventually went to, Sarah Lawrence College, although I waited until the last possible moment of my senior year to take a writing class, because the curriculum itself was designed for writers, with no exams and independent research projects to complement the work in every course. This is what led me to journalism school, where I discovered by wonderful accident my true passion, photography. How did you get started in your field of work? I was studying print journalism at Columbia University when I enrolled in a short course …

Happy Oil Workers’ Day!

Today commemorates 17 years since the signing of the “Contract of the Century” to build the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline to deliver offshore Caspian crude from the oil fields of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli. On this day in 1994, the agreement was signed between the government of Azerbaijan and major oil companies Amoco, BP, McDermott, Unocal, Lukoil, Statoil, Exxon, TPAO, Pennzoil, Itochu, Ramco, Delta and SOCAR (the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic). The BTC pipeline has the capacity to bring one million barrels of Azeri oil a day to Western markets. Last year, I first came to Azerbaijan and the region to follow and photograph socioeconomic developments along the pipeline route with a Young Explorers Grant from the National Geographic Society. The work I produced was published, “At Five Years Old: BTC Pipeline Moves Oil, Culture,” and I hope to return to the region to following the route this winter. I will soon be launching on October 1 a crowdsourcing campaign to accomplish this goal on the photojournalists’ fundraising platform Emphas.Is, where I hope to raise …