A lauded photojournalist and founding member of VII Photo, Antonin Kratochvil has left the agency after a storm of controversy over his alleged sexual harassment of female photographers. Kratochvil was suspended from VII Photo in July after an investigation into sexual harassment in photojournalism by Kristen Chick was published in the Columbia Journalism Review. Chick’s lengthy article included various allegations that he had sexually harassed female members of the agency, both verbally and physically. Kratochvil has denied the accusations but, according to VII Photo, submitted his resignation to the agency on 24 August. VII Photo states that his resignation was immediately accepted, and it publicly announced his departure on 03 September. Kratochvil’s case comes hard on the heels of Patrick Witty’s departure from National Geographic, where the deputy director of photography’s inappropriate behaviour towards women photojournalists was the subject of an internal investigation. Both cases, and Chick’s article, can be seen as indicative of the soul-searching currently underway in photojournalism, a sector that even Lars Boering, managing director of World Press Photo has described as “macho”. Magnum Photos …
“We do see that our industry is male-dominated, world-wide – though not within NOOR,” say the photographers of the NOOR agency, via their current president Andrea Bruce. “We are encouraged by the current discussions happening throughout the photo world around abuse of power. These are sometimes painful, but necessary.” Photojournalism is still male-dominated, that much is undeniable. But does it have a macho culture, as World Press Photo’s MD Lars Boering has said? Do male photojournalists and picture editors abuse their power? And if so, what’s being done about it? In the wake of the #metoo movement, and in particular after the recent allegations against Patrick Witty, one-time deputy director of photography at National Geographic, and Antonin Kratochvil, one of the founding members of VII, these have become key questions in photography, and the big agencies are getting on board. For David Kogan, as for Bruce, it’s a work in progress. He’s executive director of Magnum Photos, which introduced a Code of Conduct for both its photographers and staff at its last AGM in June. …
The prominent photo editor Patrick Witty was publicly accused of sexual misconduct on 29 January, in a report published on Vox.com by the journalist AJ Chavar. In his report, Chavar stated that Witty, who has worked at National Geographic, Time, Wired, and the New York Times, was investigated for sexual misconduct by National Geographic last Autumn; Chavar’s story added testimonies by women photographers, some anonymous but two named. In response, Witty has released this statement to the media, via his lawyer Stephen B. Pershing.
“I’m deeply sorry that some of my past behavior has been hurtful to women.
“I was raised by six powerful women – five older sisters and my mother, now 86 – who taught me to respect women and to fight for women. I’ve advocated and championed women’s advancement as photographers and editors my entire career.
“With firm conviction, I deny that I’ve ever engaged in any behavior that amounts to sexual aggression. I also strongly deny ever insinuating that I would give someone professional help – or withhold it – on condition of sexual favors or romantic interest. I’ve never been accused of wrongdoing of any kind in the workplace, so I was shocked and dismayed when I first learned of the accusations against me.
He’s a huge name in the industry, having worked at National Geographic, Time, Wired, and the New York Times (where he was part of a Pulitzer-winning team). But yesterday Patrick Witty was the subject of a long story published on Vox.com, which alleged he was investigated by National Geographic for sexual misconduct last Autumn. The story went on to add that more than 20 people had come forward to Vox.com to report experiencing, witnessing, or hearing corroboratory reports of his inappropriate behaviour.