More than a week after the founding members of the VII Photo agency gathered at John Stanmeyer's home in the US to discuss the future of the agency and of its Network members, BJP can now confirm who will form part of the redefined agency.
Last July, VII Photo announced that it would dissolve its Network, asking its photographers to re-apply for membership in a bid to simplify its structure.
Mayes said: “When VII first initiated the Network, at the start of 2008, it wasn’t known at that stage how it would play out, how would the photographers integrate into VII. All of this has been positive, and we’ve been delighted by the photographic performances, but also the energy and contribution the Network has brought.”
Clients were sometimes confused by the different sections of the agency, however – VII runs VII Photo, VII Network and VII Mentor – and “we’ve decided to level it all off so that, as far as clients are concerned, everyone that is in VII is part of the agency and they will benefit from the same level of service,” said Mayes.
The changes affect photographers Lynsey Addario, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, Eric Bouvet, Andrea Bruce, Stefano De Luigi, Jessica Dimmock, Tivadar Domaniczky, Adam Ferguson, Ziyah Gafic, Ashley Gilbertson, Benedicte Kurzen, Seamus Murphy, Maciek Nabrdalik, Tomas van Houtryve, Donald Weber and Venetia Dearden.
Now, BJP can confirm that photographers Eric Bouvet, Tivadar Domaniczky, Ziyah Gafic and Benedicte Kurzen have not been offered membership to the agency. While some of these photographers will have the option to stay with the agency for the next three months, BJP has been told that Gafic has asked for all of his images to be removed from the agency's archives.
Meanwhile, Andrea Bruce has confirmed to BJP that she did not apply for membership at VII Photo and has now left the agency for another.
But, the AGM was not all bad news, as the remaining VII Network members were accepted as full members of the agency. "I am definitely happy, because I feel I've been asked to be part of something bigger than myself," says Stefano De Luigi. "It's a responsibility, a challenge and a gift. I expect to learn a lot from the members' experiences, from their visions. The future is unwritten," he adds, "but I'm sure that from this point onward the contribution of all, original members and new ones, will be much more intense."
Donald Weber adds: "Ten years ago as I was beginning my photography career, VII had just been created," Weber tells BJP. "At the time, I considered the agency to be the vanguard of a new era in photography, and wanted to be a part of it. 10 years later, I am proud to be a full member of VII and look forward to working with everyone over the coming decade - and more - as we move forward in this new era."
VII Photo has also added two new members - Davide Monteleone, this year's European Publisher Award winner and a Contrasto member, as well as Anastasia Taylor-Lind, who, for the past two years, had been part of the VII Mentor programme.
"After two years on the VII mentor program under the guidance of Ron Haviv, I am utterly delighted and honoured to become part of VII Photo," says Taylor-Lind in a statement. "The mentor program is a wonderful and successful idea, and something I am really proud to have been part of. I'm excited about my future at VII and being part of an exceptional group of photographers, who are in turn supported by wonderful agency staff."
Speaking to BJP, Stephen Mayes, the agency's director, explained that the streamlining of the agency was a simple business management decision, as VII Photo couldn't offer the same level of support to all its photographers. But, he added, "there was intense pain - there's no other word for it - when it came to decide."
In a separate interview with BJP, co-founding member Gary Knight added: t was probably the hardest thing we ever had to do, no-one enjoyed it because we knew it would be heartbreaking for us and for the great people who we couldn't take on. We started on Tuesday and finished on Wednesday, we looked at their submissions - so the way they wanted to represent themselves, we looked at their personal websites and at their work on the VII site to make sure we missed nothing and to make sure that the people who struggled to edit their folios well weren't handicapped. We discussed all the great things many of them have brought to VII over the years, beyond photography." [Read the full interview].
The confirmed list of VII Photo members:
Jocelyn Bain Hogg
Stefano De Luigi
Tomas van Houtryve
Have now left VII Photo
For more information about VII Photo, visit www.viiphoto.com.
This article was first published on Friday 23 September. It was updated on 27 September, 28 September and 29 September.
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