Growing up in Peru in a large family “with limited resources”, photography didn’t figure large in Prin Rodriguez’s childhood. In fact her family only got its first camera – a pocket digital camera – when she was finishing secondary school, and was initially firmly against it when Rodrigeuz said she wanted to study photography. “They had the conviction that university education was a way of moving up the social ladder, and that photography did not offer any certainty of this,” she tells BJP. “For my family to have a camera was almost a luxury.”
Despite this Rodriguez persisted, and is now building a successful career in image-making. She’s currently taking part in the VII workshop in Poland, one of only 20 photographers to have been invited to join, and the only one from the whole of Latin America. Her work was recently published on the PHmuseum website, and she has co-founded the Pariacaca collective with fellow photographer Monarca Criollo.
Last year, VII Photo Agency invited six women to join its collective. With seven female members in total, “the seven of VII” quickly became a phrase that stuck. After numerous email exchanges, and a big discussion at the annual general meeting in Barcelona in March, the seven of VII are now staging a group exhibition together – Her Take: (Re)thinking Masculinity, which opens at Photoville in Brooklyn, New York on 13 September.
The exhibition is made up of seven separate projects, each exploring the topic of masculinity. “The exhibition is a conversation, and it’s a conversation that we want to have with both women and men,” explains Sara Terry, whose project recreates Manet’s famous painting, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, with a naked man replacing the female nude.
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. …
It’s disconcerting to think how years of work and effort, of countless hours spent practising and honing a skill, can be wrenched away from any of us in just a few minutes of misfortune. It’s also, for any of us used to good health, troubling to consider how reliant we are on the basic functionality of our bodies. A photographer, for example, needs to be able to hold a camera, to have the strength to frame a shot and time the click of the shutter in the heat of the moment. Shorn of that basic ability, what are we left with? Early one morning in May 2015, Sim had to face that exact question.
She was on assignment for a French newspaper, travelling to the Tumen Economic Development Zone, a government-owned complex of Chinese factories on the edge of the border with North Korea. Tumen employed North Korean labourers who, with state sanctioning, would be sent to live and work in the economic zone. The brief was to capture how North Korea and China trade. This place seemed like the perfect microcosm for that complex relationship – the makings of great pictures.
Entering Tumen with her driver and colleagues from Le Monde, she failed to spot a sign that read: “No smoking, photography, or practising driving”. As they approached the factories, the car passed a small group of women in black jumpsuits, knelt by the roadside picking weeds from the ground. Sitting in the driver’s seat with the window wound down, Sim instinctively raised her camera and fired off a couple of shots. “Almost immediately, the women turned around, ran towards the cab, and reached into the car,” she wrote in an article for ChinaFile, recounting events.
The Visa Pour l’Image festival returns for the 29th time – to “turbulent time”, in which “photojournalists are obviously needed, and play an essential role which is now more important than ever” as the co-founder and director general Jean-François Leroy puts it