The VII Foundation Acquires VII Photo

The VII Foundation has acquired VII Photo Agency, making it one of the pillars of the foundation instead of being a separate entity. In addition to VII Photo, The VII Foundation comprises VII Academy, VII Insider, and VII Community.

A U.S. Marine slides down the marble handrail in Saddam Hussein's extravagant palace built in his hometown of Tikrit. The enormous Palace contained rugs and antiquities worth hundreds of thousands of dollars before being looted by Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. Tikrit, Iraq, 2003. Photo by Ashley Gilbertson/VII

MAY 2023

With The VII Foundation becoming the guardian of VII Photo’s rich legacy, the veracity and authenticity inherent in the work of the VII Photo contributing photographers will have broader reach, accessibility, and impact through the foundation’s advocacy and educational programming.  As we confront a new age of image artifice when the line between fiction and non-fiction is being eroded, this need has never been greater.

The VII Foundation’s mission is to transform visual journalism by empowering new voices and creating stories that advocate change. In a world where beliefs and actions are increasingly out-of-sync with facts and realities, transforming visual journalism is an urgent task. Our work begins with the programs of VII Academy, the educational wing of the foundation that provides tuition-free courses in visual journalism to practitioners in the Majority World and underrepresented communities in G20 countries. VII Academy aims to democratize the information narrative and give communities the tools to narrate their own stories in regions where media education is poorly resourced.

Complementing our core educational programs are two platforms: VII Insider, a free online space for public debate and discussion of visual journalism, and VII Community, designed to further tuition-free media education and foster exciting opportunities for our VII Academy alumni.

VII Photo is synonymous with courageous and impactful photojournalism. In 2001 the dawn of the digital era enabled the creation of the VII Photo Agency. It allowed it to innovate and thrive during the aftermath of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and the chaos that followed as the narrative of a new century was written.

VII Photo Agency was created to enhance the careers of its members, to allow them to work on stories that mattered, have an impact in partnership with the world’s leading press, and create new opportunities they could not imagine alone.

The digital revolution that enabled the photographers to build the agency also precipitated an undeniable loss in revenue for their media clients. Out of this anticipation, The VII Foundation was created at the same time to innovate and lead in the non-profit space. With its inception came more opportunities for the VII Photo contributing photographers to work on ambitious stories in partnership with writers, filmmakers, and other leading practitioners and advance their efforts to mentor and educate younger photographers.

Photo agencies and the press have less impact and influence on the production of visual journalism and a decreasing capacity to support the ambition of photographers than they used to. Photojournalism means taking risks; it requires initiative, resourcefulness, empathy, and courage. It also requires collaboration, trust, imagination, and partnership. Independent photo agencies and editors in the leading press were once essential to the life of a photojournalist. Today, the press has fewer resources to deploy independent photographers, and photo agencies survive by selling photographs by the kilogram.

Through this acquisition, The VII Foundation will preserve the values the VII Photo founders laid out twenty years ago. Collectively and unanimously, VII Photo’s contributing photographers believe the work of The VII Foundation and its ecosystem embodies what VII Photo set out to achieve – focusing on stories that matter and training and mentoring the next generation – and is now the appropriate structure for the future. We will continue to innovate, educate, and transform visual journalism as we embrace the next chapter in our development.

Arles, France.