September 27th, 2012

Video Pick: A Partnership to Fight the Stigma of Incarceration

During a panel discussion at ASMP’s “Sustainable Business Models: Issues & Trends Facing Visual Artists” symposium, Stephen Mayes, managing director of the VII Photo Agency warned photographers not to think of themselves strictly as service providers. He suggested looking not for clients, but for “partnerships.” He said VII has successfully formed several such partnerships, in which the entity paying for the photos isn’t necessarily the same company that’s using the photos. One such partnership is the VII Photo Agency’s recent work creating videos and photo essays for Think Outside the Cell, a non-profit organization that works with the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated and their families to help end the stigma of incarceration

The campaign was funded by the Ford Foundation, and VII acted as Think Outside the Cell’s “exclusive visual communications partner,” according to the press release from VII. The photographs and video that VII photographers created for the Think Outside the Cell web site show the ordinary lives of people who were formerly incarcerated in order to raise awareness about the stigma and challenges they face upon release from prison— problems that go far beyond discrimination when applying for jobs. The stories the photographers tell also explore “the local, state and federal laws that prevent formerly incarcerated persons from accessing the resources necessary to establish a stable and productive life.”

The first of the videos, ten minutes long, debuted on the Think Outside the Cell web site this week. It’s a collaboration between Ed Kashi, Jessica Dimmock, Ashley Gilbertson and Ron Haviv; the videos are edited by Francisco Fagan.

Here’s a short trailer:

The Prison Photography blog has begun a five-part series on the Think Outside the Cell campaign, and will be running weekly interviews with each of the photographers. Part One of the series was posted this week. In it, writer Pete Brook talks to Sheila Rule and Joseph Robinson, co-founders of Think Outside The Cell, and one of the subjects featured in the video. They explain how the organization is addressing the problems of the formerly incarcerated, how the campaign was planned, and why the partnership with VII was, in Rule’s words, “a natural fit.” Says Rule, “We are both driven by storytelling. Stories change hearts and minds.”

September 13th, 2011

Interactive Photo Display on Malnutrition: Coming to a City Near You

Photo by Amber Terranova/PDN

Commuters and shoppers passing through New York’s Union Square on Tuesday were presented with information on the fight against malnutrition in an unusual way: At an outdoor exhibit of photographs displayed around a field hospital set up by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).  The photos, as wells as videos shown on monitors inside the hospital tents, were created by photographers with VII Photo Agency as part of Starved for Attention, the global multimedia and online campaign created in association with MSF.

MSF doctors and nurses gave tours of the hospital and describe their work in the field; VII photographers Jessica Dimmock and Ron Haviv were on hand to answer questions about their photo projects.   Union Square was the first stop on an exhibition tour that includes Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.

None of the photos in the exhibit, taken in Burkina Faso, India, Bangladesh, Congo and elsewhere, show the now familiar images of starving children with bloated bellies, Haviv notes.
(more…)

August 29th, 2011

Nachtwey Has Left VII Photo; Agency Prepares for Expansion

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?’”
June 9th, 2011

VII Dissolves Network, Announces New Mentors

VII Photo Agency will dissolve the VII Network in October 2011 in order to “enlarge its core membership giving all members equal access to the agency’s services and offering clients full-service support for all photographers on the VII roster,” the agency announced. The decision was made at the agency’s recent general meeting.

The Network photographers—Lynsey Addario, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, Eric Bouvet, Andrea Bruce, Stefano De Luigi, Venetia Dearden, Jessica Dimmock, Tivadar Domaniczky, Adam Ferguson, Ziyah Gafic, Ashley Gilbertson, Benedicte Kurzen, Seamus Murphy, Maciek Nabrdalik, Tomas van Houtryve and Donald Weber—have all been asked to apply for full membership with the agency.

“In the three and a half years since the VII Network was initiated we have been delighted and inspired by the energy and quality of work from our new colleagues,” said Ron Haviv, one of VII’s founders, in a statement. “This year marks the tenth anniversary of VII’s formation and it is a perfect time to fully embrace a new generation of curious and enterprising VII photographers who will help us steer the agency into the future.”

VII also announced two new additions to its Mentor program, which pairs young photojournalists with VII members to help them develop their work and careers. Beijing-based photographer Sim Chi Yin will be mentored by Marcus Bleasdale and Polish photographer Mikolaj Nowacki will work with Antonin Kratochvil.

July 1st, 2010

Agency News: Ed Kashi Joins VII, Alixandra Fazzina Joins NOOR

VII and NOOR announced new additions to their memberships today.

New Jersey-based photojournalist Ed Kashi joins Marcus Bleasdale, the Estate of Alexandra Boulat, Ron Haviv, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Joachim Ladefoged, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, Franco Pagetti, Stephanie Sinclair and John Stanmeyer as a co-owning  member of VII Photo Agency.

“Ed is not only an amazing photographer but also an original thinker with huge positive energy, which fits right into VII’s dynamic approach to expanding the relevance of photojournalism in the new millennium,” VII managing director Stephen Mayes said in a statement.

Alixandra Fazzina, a British photographer based in Pakistan, joins Nina Berman, Philip Blenkinsop, Pep Bonet, Jan Grarup, Stanley Greene, Yuri Kozyrev, Kadir van Louhizen, Jon Lowenstein and Francesco Zizola as a member of the NOOR foundation and photo agency.

Fazzina recently released a book, “A Million Shillings: Escape From Somalia” (Trolley, 2010), about Somalis fleeing their war-torn country along perilous smuggling routes.