VII derives its name from the number of founding photo-journalists who, in September 2001, formed this collectively owned agency. Designed from the outset to be an efficient, technologically enabled distribution hub for some of the world’s finest photojournalism, VII has been responsible for creating and relaying to the world many of the images that define the turbulent opening years of the 21st century.
Alexandra Boulat, Ron Haviv, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey and John Stanmeyer were joined in 2002 by Lauren Greenfield and in 2004 by Joachim Ladefoged. Eugene Richards joined in April 2006. Together they document conflict – environmental, social and political, both violent and non-violent – to produce an unflinching record of the injustices created and experienced by people caught up in the events they describe.
On September 9th 2001, VII announced its formation. On the following night, covering for the missed return flight of a colleague, James Nachtwey arrived at his Manhattan apartment close to the World Trade Center. The next morning, he photographed some of the most haunting pictures of the collapse of the towers, at the same time eloquently conveying the destruction of a way of life.
While the stark realities of the battlefield loom large, VII turns its gaze with equal intensity to more subtle forms of conflict and documenting the changes and development of society and culture worldwide. The work of Lauren Greenfield, particularly in her social documentary of youth culture and gender identity, adds a further perspective and depth to the work of the agency
But this is not merely artfully captured, neutral observation; nor is it the doctrinaire elaboration of a political or social position. Each photographer is inspired by an array of often very different motivations, and it is from this breadth of reference that the agency draws its originality and strength. What unites VII’s work is a sense that, in the act of communication at the very least, all is not lost; the seeds of hope and resolution inform even the darkest records of inhumanity; reparation is always possible; despair is never absolute.