All posts filed under: press

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 …

Deutsche Welle: A rare win for accountability advocates in Chicago

I was quoted briefly late last week in a Deutsche Welle article, “A rare win for accountability advocates in Chicago,” in connection with my efforts to document the stories and faces of the torture victims of Area 2 and Area 3 from 1973-1991 under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge: For the first time in 35 years, a Chicago officer faces a first-degree murder charge for an on-duty fatality. The period includes scores of police killings and 20 dismissed complaints alleging bias, violence and illegal searches by Van Dyke. It also includes many of the years in which Chicago police ran a torture regime in which more than 200 men, the vast majority of them black, were shocked, beaten and subjected to mock executions. In May, the city council agreed to pay out $5.5 million to survivors of the program, many of whom spent years in prison after confessing under duress to crimes they had not committed. The city also continues to pay Commander Jon Burge, who ran the program, a $3,000 monthly pension. “His …

The Phoblographer: National Geographic Photographers Talk About Their Scariest Moment

The Phoblographer writer Julius Motal asked me a few months back to tell him about a scary moment in the field while working on my National Geographic Young Explorer Grant projects in the Balkans and the Caucasus. I thought there was one important and not so obvious lesson worth sharing from my experiences: “Don’t trust Google Maps in conflict or post-conflict zones as the roads may be mined,” said photojournalist Amanda Rivkin who worked on two projects in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus with National Geographic Young Explorers Grants from the Expeditions Council. Unless the area has been substantially surveyed, it can almost be impossible to know where landmines are. Landmine accidents are an uncomfortably common occurrence, particularly in post-conflict zones. In some places, landmines aren’t discovered until they’ve gone off. In others, they’re well documented like in the Falkland islands where there are cordoned-off no-go zones. Penguins there have, however, capitalized on them because they’re light enough to not set them off. People, however, are not so fortunate. When data or a “Beware Mines” …

Telluride Mountainfilm Wrap-Up + Press

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 …

CNN + PDN Cover the “Symbolic Opening[s]” of the Aleppo International Photo Festival in War Torn City

Photographer holds festival of hope amid Aleppo fighting By Catriona Davies, CNN October 5, 2012 — Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT) (CNN) — These pictures were taken within one week of each other in the center of Aleppo and show the incredible resilience of some of its residents in the face of Syria’s bloody civil war. Photographer Issa Touma’s home in the historic area of Aleppo has been badly damaged by gunfire. Yet, amid the crossfire between opposition and government forces, Touma is still organizing the international photography festival he holds every year. Touma, who owns a gallery in Aleppo, has been running the exhibition for 11 years and was determined that the show would continue despite fighting reaching the center of the city on August 19. The festival was due to open on September 15. […]   Aleppo Photo Festival Holds “Symbolic Opening” in War Zone PDN by Holly Hughes September 21, 2012 On September 15, the day the 11th annual Aleppo International Photo Festival was scheduled to open in the war-torn city of …

Amateur Photographer (UK) on VII Mentor Program

  Victims of the Ajka alumina sludge spill in Hungary in October 2010 return to the new beginnings homeless shelter. Amateur Photography, “Amanda Rivkin,” feature on VII Mentor, September 8, 2012, p. 29. Bright new talent Amateur Photographer (UK) September 8, 2012 As the VII Photo Agency welcomes four new members to its mentoring programme, Gemma Padley talks to the photographers about their approach and ambitions BEGINNING a career as a fledgling photographer in the somewhat fraught and uncertain world of photojournalism can be a challenging experience, to say the least. With the fast-paced turnaround of news and rapid pace of technological change, not to mention the photographic industry itself being in a constant state of flux, a career as a photojournalist is no bed of roses. Yet despite these challenges, many photographers find the draw of life as a photojournalist irresistible. Four photographers who have chosen to embark on this path are Gazi Nafis Ahmed, Laura El-Tantawy, Jost Franko and Amanda Rivkin. They are the latest recruits to the VII Mentor Program that is …

National Geographic Explorers Journal: Explorer of the Week – Amanda Rivkin

Explorer of the Week: Amanda Rivkin Posted by Amy Bucci of NG Staff in Explorers Journal on August 14, 2012 This week we are featuring Amanda Rivkin, a photographer who decided to focus her lens on Azerbaijan’s offshore oil fields in the Caspian. Using funds from her Young Explorer grant, she followed the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline’s 1,100-mile route, which skirts five conflict zones in three countries representing believers of both Islam and Christianity. Rivkin’s photos reveal her passion and keen sense of storytelling. As she tells us, “I have come to see photography maybe in the vein of ancient epics, for a good photo is crafted like poetry.” In one National Geographic staff favorite, Rivkin captured a man reclining in a crude oil bath at a spa near Baku. Rivkin’s attention to detail, her knowledge about her subjects, and her unique vision will certainly continue to push her into the spotlight. What project are you working on now? I am transitioning from two long-term projects on the role of women in Azerbaijan and the …