VII Mentor Program 2023-24

VII Mentor Program 2023-24

VII Mentor Program 2023-24

VII Academy welcomes the new cohort of seven emerging visual practitioners selected for this year’s VII Mentor Program.

View of a group of passengers from different walks of life and with different destinations in the port district, Alexandria, Egypt, April 2, 2019. ©Fatma Fahmy for the VII Mentor Program.

This year’s cohort represents a blend of new talents with familiar faces selected from over 300 applicants spanning more than 42 countries. Over the next twelve months, through monthly expert sessions, these mentees will explore critical topics such as ethics, business practices, grant writing, branding, design fundamentals, story pitching, entrepreneurship, and legalities. They will work with renowned media experts, and each benefit from personalized mentorship by a VII Photo contributing photographer who will provide professional guidance.

As part of the mentorship, the mentees will engage in monthly guest lectures led by industry experts to cover essential topics to elevate professional practice. These sessions and group meetings will foster a sense of community, providing a robust support system for the mentees in their development.

The 2023-24 VII Mentees are: 
Ebrahim Alipoor, Fatma Fahmy, Tako Robakidze, Oleksandr Rupeta, Chinky Shukla, Mitar Simikić, and Byron Smith.

“The VII Mentor Program is the oldest running program of its kind and is a pathway that helps some of the world’s brightest young photographers build successful and sustainable careers that have a significant impact in their home countries. It is also a means by which the older generation of photographers at VII Photo give back to the industry and build long-lasting and meaningful friendships with the next generation. It is, and always has been, one of our most important initiatives.”

— Gary Knight, CEO, The VII Foundation.

The VII Mentor Program, renowned for cultivating emerging new talents, provides a structured professional environment focusing on those from the Majority World and under-represented communities.

The program–the first of its kind–was launched by VII Photo Agency in 2008. It is now managed by VII Academy, an educational program of The VII Foundation, following its recent acquisition of VII Photo in 2023. This 12-month program pairs selected visual journalists with experienced VII photographers and has developed some of the brightest new talents in photojournalism since its launch.

Ebrahim Alipoor

Kurdistan, Iran
A man trying to revive Dariush Shukri, a 22-year-old man who was caught in an avalanche on a path in Koolbari. Efforts to revive him did not work. In the winter, avalanches are one of the main causes of death in Koolbari. ©Ebrahim Alipoor for the VII Mentor Program.

Fatma Fahmy

Cairo, Egypt
View of a group of residents from the Wardian district going to the local party at Masr station, one of the main stations. It takes about 15 minutes to load the passengers. Alexandria, Egypt, April 2, 2019. ©Fatma Fahmy for VII Mentor Program

Tako Robakidze

Tbilisi, Georgia
Ina, from Ochamchire, was 18 years old when she was on the beach with her friends and they suddenly spotted airplanes, followed by the sound of gunfire. She had no idea what was happening. When she returned home, she learned that the war had begun. It was August 14th, 1992. Ina and her sister fled to the Imereti region. She vividly remembers their arrival, realizing they had nothing, not even a cup. "Outside, my mother found a bottle, which she washed thoroughly and placed on the table. It made her feel like a local resident." Ina experienced being bride-kidnapped in Tskaltubo and later raised three children on her own. Currently, she awaits the opportunity to obtain an apartment. Sanatorium "Megobroba" (Friendship), Tskaltubo, Georgia, 2021. ©Tako Robakidze for the VII Mentor Program.

Oleksandr Rupeta

Folk holiday Malanka celebration in Bukovyna, Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine, 2015. ©Oleksandr Rupeta for the VII Mentor Program.

Chinky Shukla

New Delhi, India
Pokhran, a desert city in the northern state of Rajasthan, witnessed a series of nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 at the Indian Army's Pokhran firing range, 2.5km from nearby Khetolai village. The Pokhran firing range is still used for testing missiles and other defence-related technologies. ©Chinky Shukla for the VII Mentor Program.

Mitar Simikić

In the northeastern part of the Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Janja’s 53 kilometers form the left tributary of the Drina, the nation’s second-largest river. The local fisherman used to catch fish that would migrate from the Drina during the winter months. Now, the fish are scarce due to the disruption of the river's ecosystem caused by the complete reshaping of the course of the Janja River. ©Mitar Simikic for the VII Mentor Program.

Byron Smith

Athens, Greece
A Ukrainian internally displaced person (IDP) who escaped from Irpin, a Kyiv suburb heavily affected by fighting and shelling, arrives with her dog and family at a location before the destroyed bridge leading into the city. The scene was captured in the third week of the Russian invasion on March 12, 2022. ©Byron Smith for the VII Mentor Program

The VII Foundation is the first and only organization dedicated to providing long-term, tuition-free media education for the Majority World and underrepresented communities in G20 countries.

In the last four years, VII Academy has trained over 1,000 people from 100 countries in nine languages, with more than half identifying as women.

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