Photographer James Nachtwey confirms that he decided to leave the VII Photo Agency, the cooperative he cofounded in 2001, last fall. “I disassociated from the agency as a photographer,” Nachtwey tells PDN. He says he told the other members of the agency of his decision at an agency meeting in November. Stephen Mayes, managing director of VII, says Nachtwey’s photography business is being conducted through his studio.
Nachtwey was one of the original seven member/owners of the agency, which launched September 9, 2001. The others were the late Alexandra Boulat, Ron Haviv, Christopher Morris, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, and John Stanmeyer.
As the agency approaches its tenth anniversary, it is in the process of expanding its membership and reevaluating its direction. The agency announced after in June that it would dissolve its VII Network. All members of the Network were asked to reapply for full membership in the agency; applications are also being accepted by photographers outside of VII. The deadline for applying to VII is September 9.
“Internally the distinction between owner and non owners [of the agency] will continue, but in terms of service and the public, it’ll be one group of photographers,” Mayes says.
Mayes says VII’s owner-members will evaluate applications September 20 through 22. While selecting its future members, the owners will also be re-evaluating the direction of the agency. Depending on which photographers they choose to accept into the expanded VII Photo Agency, Mayes says, “The owners will look at themselves and say: ‘If this is VII, what do we want VII to be?’”