VII Photo remains disruptive and continues to document the most important stories of the new century. Beyond its journalism, VII Photo  responds swiftly to political and cultural changes in the media.


VII Photo cultivates impactful opportunities and creates meaningful assignments for VII Photo contributing photographers, mentees, and alumni. Acquired by The VII Foundation in 2023, VII Photo has now transitioned into a pivotal role within the foundation and is positioned to leverage the legacy of its contributing photographers within the non-profit space.

VII Photo works on communications strategies with our partner organizations and reports on some of humanity’s most intractable issues. The VII Foundation has long-term agreements with UNICEF and The Global Fund and has been granted United Nations ECOSOC Special Consultative Status.

As a vital part of The VII Foundation, VII Photo has a substantial cultural program that curates and exhibits worldwide and conducts creative photography, editing, and writing workshops open to all. These workshops enable participants to nurture their passion for photography and have a unique experience in locations worldwide (such as Bosnia, Rajasthan, and Rwanda).

The members of VII Photo are also integral to the foundation’s educational programs – they teach many of the online courses and mentor alumni and other emerging talents – and the foundation’s acquisition of VII Photo strengthens this link and enables new opportunities in the education sector.


The VII Foundation Acquires VII Photo

In 2023, The VII Foundation acquired VII Photo Agency, integrating it as one of the pillars of the foundation instead of being a separate entity. The non-profit organization serves as the appropriate structure to provide strategic communication support to our partners and to create assignment opportunities for contributing VII Photo contributing photographers, mentees, and alumni with our non-profit partners.

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
©Ashley Gilbertson/VII


Through a series of unforeseen events and a missed flight, VII Photo Agency co-founder James Nachtwey found himself situated in New York on September 11. His generation’s most celebrated chronicler of conflict, Nachtwey, was only a few blocks from the Twin Towers when the terrorist attacks began. He photographed as the towers crashed down around him, initiating VII Photo Agency’s legacy of unflinching first-person and high-risk photojournalism just three days after its launch.

The role of VII Photo Agency as a witness to conflict and social injustice worldwide was put into sharp focus from the very beginning. This is the story of the inception of the VII ecosystem.

In the ensuing years, the photographers of VII focused on documenting war and violence. From 9/11 and the fall of the Taliban through the beginning of America’s longest war in Iraq, and conflict in the Middle East and Asia, as the agency evolved, it turned its gaze to climate change, human rights, mass migration, political life, inequality, and civil rights. VII transformed into a multi-faceted journalism organization.

At a time when Getty and Bill Gates were buying up small photo agencies and creating super-agencies, the then photographer-owned VII swam against the prevailing currents. It eschewed a commercial profit-driven culture and prioritized uncompromising photography of the day’s significant political and social issues.

Twenty-one years later, VII Photo remains just as disruptive and continues to document the most important stories of the new century. Beyond its journalism, VII Photo has responded swiftly to political and cultural changes in the media. Through its mentor program – the first of its kind – VII Photo amplified the voices of a new generation of visual storytellers, many of them from the Majority World.

Long-term agreements