VII is a storied photo agency founded a few days before 9/11 to challenge the convergence in the photography business when the trend for giant companies swallowing smaller independent agencies started. VII went small and photographer-owned, believing in the power and energy of collective effort when everyone else seemed to be going big and corporate. VII remains a disruptive and innovative business unafraid to swim against the prevailing currents.
VII has turned its gaze far from the frontline of its foundation. It has earned a reputation for uncompromising photography immersed in the great issues of today. VII photographers and filmmakers are as likely to be found focusing on race, gender, and identity as they are on migration or conflict. Amplifying local voices and addressing the complex political, environmental, and social questions facing families everywhere, VII places great value in the power of images to tell important stories. The members of VII are motivated by issues and are proud to elevate those issues above the cult of the image or the cult of the photographer.
VII was proud to collaborate with UNICEF on a video and photo campaign aimed at protecting children in the world’s most lethal conflict.
“Afghan children, their families, and communities suffer the horrific consequences of conflict each and every day. Those same children are desperate to grow up, go to school, learn skills, and build a future for themselves. We can, and must, do so much more to reinforce their extraordinary courage and resilience.” — UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
Ed Kashi served as director and cinematographer for a film about 12-year-old Sameer who was injured in a suicide attack. Every child should be able to go outside in safety. For Sameer, this was not an option. Click to watch the video on Facebook or Instagram.
Eric Bouvet’s photography is included on the cover and throughout the “Preserving Home in Afghanistan” Child Alert Report. Included in the report is the above image of 15-year-old Rahimullah.
Rahimullah was fleeing a battle in his village in Helmand province when there was a large explosion. “I was walking ahead of my brother,” recalled Rahimullah. “Suddenly I stepped on a landmine and was thrown into a nearby stream. When I opened my eyes, I saw that both of my legs had been severed.” The boy was saved by a stranger who carried him to safety. Having survived this horrific experience, the two boys later suffered the deaths of their parents and were placed in care. Today, Rahimullah and his brother, Hafeezullah, live at an orphanage near the city of Kandahar, where they attend school, and where Rahimullah can indulge his passion for basketball. “I love to study,” said Rahimullah. “When I grow up I want to help others with disabilities. I feel I understand them having gone through it myself.”
“There is a kind of visual language and literacy and responsibility that comes with photographing someone who is in a vulnerable situation, and how do you do it with dignity.” — Christopher Lee
VII Mentor Program photographer Christopher Lee’s photo of Tanitoluwa Adewumi is featured in The New York Times Year in Pictures. Tanitoluwa, known as Tani, was an 8-year-old refugee from Nigeria living in a homeless shelter with his family. He was also a state chess champion.
Click here to view The New York Times Year in Pictures, featuring more images by Christopher Lee and VII’s Ashley Gilbertson.
In this piece by The New York Times, haunting images by VII’s Christopher Morris, Paul Lowe, Eric Bouvet, and others show how the first Chechen war humiliated post-Soviet Russia, exposed its weakness, strengthened hard-liners and enabled the rise of Vladimir V. Putin.
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The VII Online Bookstore features rare, limited edition, and signed photography books by the photographers of VII.