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VIEW First-Hand, Dramatic Photos Captured by UC Journalism Alum in Turkey

UC journalism graduate Keith Rutowski is in Istanbul right now capturing dramatic images during the violent protests. Take a look at his photos where he captures history first hand.

Date: 6/14/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Allison Stigler
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Keith Rutowski

UC ingot   A protester hurling a flaming Molotov cocktail.
Image of a protester
Image of protests in Istanbul taken by UC alum Keith Rutowski

Blood dripping from the face of an injured man.

Smoke billowing in the air from tear gas canisters.

These are just some of the striking images captured by 2009 University of Cincinnati journalism graduate Keith Rutowski as a freelance photojournalist in Istanbul, Turkey.

Rutowski and his wife, Ali, moved to Turkey earlier this year wanting to challenge themselves personally and professionally. He didn’t realize he’d be documenting unrest that is making headlines internationally. The protests began May 26 after the government removed one of the only green spaces in Gezi Park, and quickly mushroomed into a general protest about the country’s government.

After police violently cracked down with tear gas and water cannons, protesters responded by burning property and hurling rocks, according to Rutowski.

“It's truly a remarkable scene, and no one knows what will come of all of it,” said Rutowski.  “We never imagined that this would break out within two weeks of being here.”

As a freelance photojournalist, Rutowski is in harm’s way in Gezi Park to capture the news. At one point, it felt like he was going to suffocate during a stampede of demonstrators. Later, he had a firecracker explode near his face.

“While I've always had a deep respect for the great photojournalists who shoot resistance movements, uprisings, and wars, my wonder and admiration for them has grown immeasurably since attempting to shoot this,” said Rutowski.
Image of protester
Image by UC alum Keith Rutowski.

“Unlike many of the events covered by these photojournalists, I am fortunately in a position now where live ammunition has not yet been utilized,” Rutowski said. “[But] these are far and away the most difficult circumstances I've encountered, and I'm spending as much time in the field avoiding tear gas canisters, stones, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails, as I am in composing shots. In theory, one would rely on using telephoto lenses from a safe distance to fill the frame, but this is more often than not a poor substitute for the intimacy and perspective of images made closer to the subject matter.”

With his journalism background, Rutowski remains impartial and lets his photos tell the story.

“As a journalist, one never "takes sides" on an issue, of course, but as a human being, it's impossible to watch some of the things happening here and not feel a profound emotional connection to the people,” Rutowski said. “I think the key, for me, is to not openly express a stance on the events but to try to infuse the images with what I am feeling and to let the public form an educated opinion on what to support and what to denounce.”

He (and his camera) have documented courageous acts, including protesters forming a human chain to block police.

He also has captured moments of play and quiet contemplation among the activists.

Jeffrey Blevins, head of the UC Department of Journalism, said Rutowski is a great example of what graduates of the program can accomplish.

“Keith was well thought of as a student here and this exactly what our journalism students are trained to do,” Blevins said. “One of the things that distinguishes our program is its international focus with global trips included in many of our courses.”
Image of protests in Istanbul
Image by UC alum Keith Rutowski

See more of Rutowski’s photos on his Tumblr page. The UC Department of Journalism is part of the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences.

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