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Manuel Rivera-Ortiz

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Manuel Rivera-Ortiz

Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, Paris, France, 2009
Born (1968-12-23) December 23, 1968
Guayama, Puerto Rico
Nationality Puerto Rican
Notable credit(s) 2004: En Foco New Works Photography Award. 2007: Artist of the Year, Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester

Manuel Rivera-Ortiz (born December 23, 1968) is an award-winning stateside Puerto Rican photographer.[1][2][3] He is best known for his social documentary photography of people's living conditions in less developed nations.[4][5][6][7] Rivera-Ortiz lives in Rochester, New York, in New York City and in Zurich.

Early life

Rivera-Ortiz was born into a poor family in the barrio of Pozo Hondo, outside Guayama on the Caribbean coast of Puerto Rico, the eldest of ten children (including four half-siblings and two stepsisters).[8] He grew up in a corrugated tin shack with dirt floors without running water.[9][10] His father hand-chopped sugar cane in the fields of Central Machete and Central Aguirre in the declining days of the Puerto Rican sugar industry, and, following the Zafra or sugar-harvesting season, labored as a migrant farm worker in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.[11]

Tobacco Harvesting, Viñales Valley, Cuba 2002

When Rivera-Ortiz was 11 years old, his parents separated and his father moved with the children to the US mainland in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The separation from his mother, whom he has not seen since, had a profound effect on Rivera-Ortiz. He attended classes at Mt. Holyoke and Springfield colleges as part of the Massachusetts Migrant Education summer program, where he was offered his first courses in photography and film development. The family later moved to Rochester, New York. Even though Spanish is his first language, Rivera-Ortiz graduated from East High School (Rochester, New York) with Regents and AP English and other language classes. At East High School Rivera-Ortiz shared a homeroom with Kim Batten for four years where they became friends. He then worked as a journalist. In 1995, Rivera-Ortiz graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree as an English major from Nazareth College, and in 1998 he received his Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Following his graduation he worked as a journalist for newspapers (e.g. Democrat and Chronicle) and magazines (e.g. Elle), but soon turned to photojournalism and documentary photography. In 2001, he began traveling as a freelance photographer with an emphasis on social issues and has exhibited his work in photographic exhibitions.[8][12]

Photographic career

Widow Of The Mines, Potosí, Bolivia 2004

Traveling widely, his photography focuses on humanitarian issues often ignored by mainstream media. His work is included in museum and corporate collections, including[23] In 2012, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism featured Rivera-Ortiz' work on poverty in the developing world in its collection of 50 Great Stories produced by alumni over the past century.[24]

Rivera-Ortiz can be classified as a social realist with his focus on social issues and the hardships of everyday life.[25]


City Dump, Yamuna River Slum, Delhi, India 2005
"The irony about my photography is that making these pictures constantly reminds me of my past. But life continues without regard for my own struggles growing up. It is for this reason that today I make these pictures to lend the voice I have been given to those who like me then, are still living in poverty today." [26]—Manuel Rivera-Ortiz


Selected solo exhibitions

Selected group exhibitions

  • 2003 Credit Suisse, New York, NY[17]
  • 2004 Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
  • 2005 Longwood Art Gallery, New York, NY[33]
  • 2005 Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY[17]
  • 2005 Lehigh University Art Galleries, Bethlehem, PA[34]
  • 2006 [13][14]
  • 2007 The Centre Gallery, Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, Miami, FL[21][35]
  • 2007 Art Off The Main, Art Expo, Puck Building, New York, NY[36]
  • 2013 Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey
  • 2013 Rencontres d'Arles, Arles, France[37][38]
  • 2013 Ikono Gallery, Brussels, Belgium

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film

non-profit private operating foundation headquartered in Rochester, New York. Rivera-Ortiz established the Foundation in 2010 to support underrepresented photographers and filmmakers from less developed countries with awards, grants, exhibitions, and educational programs.[39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][62][66][67][68][69]


  • Viajeros: North American Artist / Photographers’ Images of Cuba, Lehigh University Art Galleries, 2005
  • "A Journey of Self-Discovery", Rangefinder Magazine. (PDF of the article).
  • Lori Marie Carlson, ed., Voices in first person, Simon & Schuster, 2008, ISBN 1-4169-8445-3. Rivera-Ortiz provides the photographs in what the publisher describes as "A collection of monologues featuring the most respected Latino authors writing today, including Sandra Cisneros, Oscar Hijuelos, and Gary Soto.[70]
  • Percepciones en Blanco & Negro - Colombia, Ediciones Adéer Lyinad, 2009. ISBN 958-99237-0-4. Rivera-Ortiz provides the introduction to this collection of the work of 103 photographers.[71]
  • A New Documentary, The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography and Film, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9896053-0-4.


See also


  1. ^ "Manuel Rivera-Ortiz". Prix Pictet. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  2. ^ Austin, Josh. "Famous Documentary Photographers". Photography Arts Cafe. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  3. ^ Gampat, Chris (2012-12-26). "This Week in Photography History: The Birth of Manuel Rivera-Ortiz". The Photographer. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  4. ^ Democrat & Chronicle April 3, 2005, pg C1
  5. ^ Metropolitan Magazine; Arts & Cultural Council, Rochester NY, cover story Spring 2007
  6. ^ "The next Manuel Rivera-Ortiz?". The Esther Benjamins Trust. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  7. ^ Pasadena City College (Visual Arts & Media Studies)
  8. ^ a b c Low, Stuart (2006-12-17). "Poverty's portrait". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. pp. C.3 (cover story, Section C). Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  9. ^ a b Rivera-Ortiz, Manuel (April 2008). "A Journey of Self-Discovery". Rangefinder, the Magazine for Professional Photographers. p. 126. Retrieved 2010-04-10. 
  10. ^ Glennie Seychew, Christa (January 2007). "An Interview with Photographer Manuel Rivera-Ortiz". Buffalo Rising. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  11. ^ a b "Picturing My Life". New York Foundation for the Arts. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  12. ^ Malo, Alejandro. "Documentary Art". ZoneZero. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  13. ^ a b c George Eastman House Database (Web page with instructions for telnet access to database)
  14. ^ a b c GEH (2006), George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, Annual Report 2006, p. 9 (Rivera-Ortiz work listed as photographic accession in 2006)
  15. ^ ConXion Magazine, interview February 2007, pg. 10-11
  16. ^ The collection in the museum of fine arts Berne
  17. ^ a b c "Manuel Rivera-Ortiz". En Foco. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  18. ^ Nueva Luz Magazine, Vol. 11, No. 2, pgs. 2-9, 2006.
  19. ^ Arts & Cultural Council "Arts Awards Recipients". Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  20. ^ ConXion Magazine cover story, August 2004
  21. ^ a b c d "Kodak Presents Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Exhibit of India". Imaging Info. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  22. ^ ConXion Magazine cover story August 2005, pgs. 10-11
  23. ^ Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
  24. ^ Columbia Journalism School
  25. ^ Artcyclopedia
  26. ^ "Quotations from the World of Photography". Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  27. ^ Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 30, 2004, p. I.61 (Insider Section)
  28. ^ En Foco Exhibitions
  29. ^ "Manuel Rivera-Ortiz images to grace City Hall Link Gallery". City of Rochester. November 20, 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  30. ^ Artvoice
  31. ^ Democrat & Chronicle, August 27, 2004, page 24, Section I
  32. ^ "Hardships shape his images". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  33. ^ "Longwood Art Gallery Past Exhibitions And Events". Bronx Council on the Arts. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  34. ^ "VIAJEROS: North American Artist/ Photographers' Images of Cuba". Lehigh University Art Galleries. Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  35. ^ Miami Herald, April 5, 2007
  36. ^ "Art Off the Main 2007". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  37. ^ Voies off
  38. ^ Le Journal de la Photographie
  39. ^ Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Press Release November 2010
  40. ^ "Manuel Rivera-Ortiz". Luminous-Lint. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  41. ^ Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Press Release February 2011
  42. ^ Le Journal de la Photographie
  43. ^ "Signe des temps : La photographie sur la croisette". Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  44. ^ "The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation announces photography grant call for entries". Myanmar News. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  45. ^ "Argentine Photographer Gustavo Jononovich Awarded Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Grant". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  46. ^ Manuel Rivera-Ortiz : "Encourager l'émergence de nouveaux talents photographiques" (
  47. ^ "Le photographe argentin Gustavo Jononovich a remporté le prix de la Fondation Manuel-Rivera-Ortiz". Le Mag Location Studio Photo. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  48. ^ Manuel Rivera-Ortiz-Foundation's founder and president speaks of grant's aims and importance(
  49. ^ Schonauer, David (2012-12-17). "Call For Entries: Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Expands Into Doc Film". AI-AP (American Illustration - American Photography). Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  50. ^ BroadwayWorld
  51. ^ Guiraud, Lea (2013-07-08). "Vivek Singh - Prix de la Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz 2013". (artistik rezo). Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  52. ^ Mads Nissen on his Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Grant (
  53. ^ PhotoQ
  54. ^ The Kathmandu Post
  55. ^ Le photographe argentin Gustavo Jononovich remporte la bourse de la Fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz (
  56. ^ Assam Albums (The Indian Express)
  57. ^ Le photographe Vivek Singh remporte la bourse de la fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz pour la photographie et le film documentaire
  58. ^ Vivek Singh receives Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation Photography Grant, The Times of India, 6 July 2013, p. 7.
  59. ^ The New York Times
  60. ^
  61. ^ PhotoFans (China)
  62. ^ a b The ShanDong Weekly
  63. ^ Camille Lepage reçoit le prix d'honneur de la fondation Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
  64. ^ Un prix posthume pour l’Angevine Camille Lepage à Arles (Le Courrier de l'Ouest)
  65. ^ PhotoFans (China)
  66. ^ Sri Lankan filmmaker wins award for documentary on disappeared Jesuit priest in East during war
  67. ^ "Kannan's Sri Lanka film wins". Colombo Gazette. 2013-11-20. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  68. ^ "Sri Lankan filmmaker wins award for documentary on disappeared Jesuit priest". The Republic Square. 2013-11-20. Retrieved 2013-11-21. 
  69. ^ The Sunday Leader
  70. ^ Simon & Schuster description
  71. ^ Fotografia Colombiana
  72. ^ a b c "Manuel Rivera-Ortiz", in Lori Marie Carlson, ed., Voices in first Person: Reflections on Latino Identity (New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008; ISBN 1-4169-0635-5); available here at Google Books.
  73. ^ Nelson-Atkins Museum Collection Database

External links

  • Official website
  • The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film
  • Thoughts on Photography with Paul Giguere Interview with Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, 2009
  • Humanitarian Photography. Interview with Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
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