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John Wendle December 10, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Azerbaijan.
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‘Blood Lake,’ from the series on Azerbaijan, Baku, 2006

Editor’s Note: This post celebrates the 700th photographer in close to five years who have been featured on Verve Photo. Thanks to all of the photographers for who have been part of this amazing collection of talent. Here’s to the next 700.

John Wendle (b. 1980, USA) graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where he focused on conflict reporting and photojournalism. After serving in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan on the Caspian Sea, his interest in photography turned serious while living in Azerbaijan, where he photographed violent, anti-government street protests. From grad school he moved to Russia where he worked as a reporter and photographer at The Moscow Times and in 2008 he covered the Russo-Georgian war for TIME. From 2009-2010 he photographed the civilian surge and the agricultural counterinsurgency in southern Afghanistan for an American NGO and then returned to journalism in early 2011. His work has appeared in TIME, The New York Times, GQ, the New Yorker, the Huffington Post, The Times (London), CNN, Channel 4 News (UK), Monocle, Marie Claire, PBS and the United Nations among others. He works and lives in Kabul.

About the Photograph:

“I’d heard of this place called Bloody Lake just outside of Baku, Azerbaijan. It is over the hill from the capital – on the outskirts, just past the Botanical Gardens. It was named this because the Communists would take the bodies of enemies of the state and dump them there. It was rumored that the current regime did the same. Like so much in the former Soviet Union though, it was rumor wrapped around likely fact. Baku is old, and has seen Persian, Russian, Ottoman, oil and Soviet empires come and go. The city can be a surreal and lovely mishmash of these histories and today is a rising oil empire again.”

“The girl in the picture is a friend who also liked exploring the bizarre corners the city seemed to conjure. We took a minibus, walked through the gardens and found a hole in the fence used by people in the neighborhood – mostly refugees from the Azerbaijani-Armenian war over Nagorno-Karabakh and the Russo-Chechen wars. When we got down to the lake it had an eerie, sad and empty feeling. Children in cast-off clothing passed us in groups and muddy cows stood on the edge of the marsh. Black swallows spun and twirled over the lake. It is a forlorn place, as the edges of cities usually are. To me, this picture shows the beautiful and strange sorrow surrounding not only the lake, but also, as its people struggle to find their path, the whole country.”

Amanda Rivkin December 13, 2010

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Azerbaijan.
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Baku, Azerbaijan 2010

Amanda Rivkin (b.1984, USA) is currently based in Brooklyn while completing a master’s degree in security studies: terrorism and sub-state violence at the Georgetown University Graduate School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. Previously based in her hometown, Chicago, where she travels frequently. Her work has appeared on the front pages of Le Monde, The New York Times, The Washington Post and in Courrier Japan, The Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and The London Sunday Times Magazine. She received a Young Explorers Grant from the Expeditions Council of the National Geographic Society to travel to Azerbaijan, Georgia, and eastern Turkey for a project, “Exploring the Evolving Oil Economy: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline,” in 2010. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Sarah Lawrence College.

About the Photograph:

This photo was taken on a beach in the Bibi Heybat section of southern Baku, Azerbaijan on the 4th of July, 2010, the same day Hillary Clinton visited the oil rich nation on a tour of the region.  We went in two cars from the center of Baku to the remote, polluted beach off of a major highway that goes to the Sangachal Oil Terminal, where natural gas and oil from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli and Shah Deniz offshore oil and gas fields is pumped into several pipelines: the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the route of which I was ostensibly following as a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant recipient, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Sepsa pipeline to the Black Sea.  The day before when traveling the other direction from the Neftcala region towards the capitol, Baku, we stumbled across a still as of then under construction villa with a harbored yacht belonging to an uncle of the first lady, a site a guard reluctantly allowed me to photograph a few snaps of and that naturally included no such visible oil facility just off shore.” (more…)

Danilo Balducci July 25, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Azerbaijan.
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Garbage Dump Near Baku. Azerbaijan, 2007

Danilo Balducci (Italy, b.1971) has always been fascinated by photography and the communicative power of images. He seeks a human presence in his photographs. Danilo has worked as a professional photographer since 1996. He graduated from the High School of Photography in Rome specializing in social reportage. Danilo contributes regularly to Italian and foreign photo agencies such as Sintesi, Zuma Press and Das Fotoarchiv. His photographs and stories have been published in National and International newspapers. He has worked in various African countries covering major events as a stringer for Agence France Presse. Danilo has also worked in Romania, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Israel, among others. He has received two Orvieto photography bronze awards in Italy as well as various national and international prizes.

About the Photograph:

“I took this picture in the village of Balaxani, close to Baku. At the end of the day I saw the man coming out from the city dump. This man, who lives inside the dump was searching for food and didn’t even notice me.” A century of oil production and negligence have left the Republic of Azerbaijan on the brink of environmental disaster. Current environmental problems including air, water, and soil result in part from the economic priorities and practices of the former Soviet Union. The UN reports that Azerbaijan ranks among the 50 nations with the world’s highest level of carbon dioxide emissions. Oil rich Azerbaijan is at a critical point of its post-soviet history.

Rena Effendi April 2, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Azerbaijan.
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effendi_baku.jpg
War Veteran/ Junk Yard Loader. Baku, Azerbaijan. 2006

Rena Effendi (b 1977 in Baku, Azerbaijan) has been active as a social documentary photographer since 2002. In 2004, she was a winner of the “Fifty Crows” International Fund for Documentary Photography competition. In 2005 she participated in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass and received an honorable mention in National Geographic’s “All Roads” photography competition. In 2006 Effendi was a winner of the Getty Images Editorial Photography Grant and the Giacomelli Memorial Fund award. The same year, Effendi’s work was selected for personal exhibitions at the 18th “Visa Pour l’Image” Festival of Photojournalism in Perpignan, France.

About the Photograph:

Part of a series of portraits and landscapes that will transport you to another world. Not your jet hopping kind of photographer, Rena’s images are composed closer to home. Perhaps that is where their strength comes from.

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