Tag Archive: vii


One Project, Four Presentations: Sea Change by Michael Marten

Photographer Michael Marten’s project about tidal landscapes across the British coastline was published recently on The Guardian’s website with an interactive presentation where the viewer uses a slider to quickly move between the two photographs of the same scene. This web presentation sits in interesting contrast to the way the photos are presented on Marten’s own website, in a more traditional ‘side by side’ diptych. (I can’t link directly to the presentation, but visit the site to see for yourself). Further, the project is also being shown as an exhibition at gallery@oxo in London, is available as a video animation on his site and is being published in book form. This makes an interesting case-study of different presentations of the same photographic project.


I’m not sure if this is the greatest project to show off this web “technology” (or should I say “technique”) but I think it is an interesting example of how photography can be presented on the web in ways that would be very difficult to do in other media. Certainly difficult in anything approaching mass media. I’d be curious to see this applied to some of the numerous ‘re-photography’ projects done by photojournalists around the world. Like John Stanmayer’s “Tsunami Revisited” or Jim Marshall’s “Sarajevo 1996/2011″.

I haven’t seen the gallery show nor the book, but I think that even despite the novelty of this web trick (which perhaps undermines the ‘fine art’ nature of the project) it is probably the best way to share the essence of the project about the widely ranging landscapes underneath British tides. The immediacy of the web presentation at The Guardian is my favorite way to interact with this project. Though the time-lapse video animation on his site is also pretty interesting, with a four-hour view of the same scene featuring many people and vessels wandering the scene. What do you think?

(thanks to Michael Bowring for showing me this)

Dirty Season: a group project by new Serbian photojournalism collective Kamerades

Kamerades is a new collective of photojournalists based in Belgrade who have come together to help develop independent photography in Serbia and to work on group projects documenting contemporary stories. They are currently working together to photograph the Serbian presidential and parliamentary elections, which will take place on Sunday May 6, 2012. These six photographers are contributing their own hard-edged and sardonic vision of the Serbian electoral process and how it reflects Serbian society. They call the project “Dirty Season”.

I think it is an important step for this group and Serbian photography in general to work on such collective projects, with financial support, and to have a community of like-minded photographers working together to get photographs published in their own voice. It is not easy, especially not here, but I admire their energy and efforts. With this in mind I had a few questions for the Kamerades crew about their formation and backgrounds. Given the timeliness of their new project with the elections this week, I chose not to show a portfolio of their work but this current electoral group project which I am so excited about. It is an incredible portrait of Serbia during this election cycle.

Kamerades is Saša Čolić, Nemanja Jovanović, Milovan Milenković, Nemanja Pančić, Marko Risović and Marko Rupena. As a group they regularly post to the Kamerades Blog including updates to the Election story, which they present without captions or credits.

So how did this group of photographers come together? Where did you meet?

Jovanovic: Marko Risovic, Milovan Milenkovic and I participated in a photography lecture supported by World Press Photo back in 2009. That was the first time that we showed some of our work to a group of people larger than three. I was swept by Marko [Risovic]’s Legionnaire story for example and one thing led to another. Milovan suggested that we meet and talk about doing “something” for Serbian photography, even if it means taking only baby steps. After two years of meeting in various pubs and places that would be too generous to call restaurants, speaking and inviting over 20 people to join us, this is what came out of it.

Pancic: Milovan Milenkovic and Nemanja Jovanovic initiated the idea that after our work when we have free time, we can meet at the pub and discuss our work. At first point it brought together a large number of photographers, but over the time there were six of us remained and those were the most persistent ones. During this period, which lasted some two years, we have become a collective. It’s started to affect in a positive way to all of us as photographers, but we also became close friends. In the end we decided to launch a website that allowed us to show our work to the public.

What backgrounds as photographers do you have? Freelance, agencies, newspapers?

Jovanovic: Probably every possible background you can think of! In Serbia, you don’t get a paycheck doing and specializing in only one kind of photography.

Risovic: All of the guys in Kamerades collective were working for Media outlets at some point. At the moment few of us are trying to freelance. In Serbia. Can you imagine?

Pancic: Some of us are working in the agencies, some try to be freelancers, and some in the press.

Was there a moment when this group came together and decided that it was time to work collectively? What was it? What gave you guys the idea to work together?

Jovanovic: Yes. The idea was not so clear in the beginning, but it was there all along. From start we were determined to “push each other forward” and to try to do what we like for no other reason. No money, no awards, fame or glory were important, only escaping our everyday routine which included participating in the inevitable decline of journalism, photojournalism and photography in Serbia. The collective came as a logical solution.

Risovic: Being colleagues, working next to each other for years, we were silent witnesses of degradation of photojournalism in Serbia. We realized that sitting and despairing doesn’t lead us anywhere. So, we decided to pursue some action, and besides hanging around, talking and drinking in the pubs, we tried to be constructive. As Nemanja said before, it was a process, but it was clear from the very beginning that we all have common goal.

How did the website come together? What are you hoping to accomplish with the website (that is, to sell work? to share pictures? promoting yourselves, promoting Serbia, just looking bad-ass, etc.)? Where did the design and logo come from?

Jovanovic: It took some time. We are not experienced in that kind of stuff, so we were learning the basics, step by step. We were lucky enough to be 6 people with completely different interests, knowledge, personalities, approach in photography, but we somehow clicked perfectly together, and it resulted in the fact everybody got their part of job. Mostly Sasha who whipped and pissed off rest of us (or, took the piss out of the rest of us), and Milovan who did logo and design details after approximately nine million e-mails and discussions about the same issue. Also, we had a lot of help from friends, like our colleague Darko Stanimirovic who did the website. A lot of people gave different advices, Matt Lutton among them [ed: happy to help guys!], Donald Weber from VII agency and our friends photographers, designers and editors from Serbia and abroad.

Selling our work is every photographer’s job of course, but with this portfolio we mostly seek attention and hope to sell something in the future, maybe to get some assignments that would suit our style/wishes. And looking cool is one of the goals, of course! We are pretty much terrible musicians and we couldn’t be rock stars, so we took cameras. Chicks love it!

Pancic: As I said before, the website has come as a result of our meetings during the past two years. One idea that keeps us together is that we want to show our work to world around us, we believe that as a collective we have a better chance to get more publicity and through joint actions provide us new projects. Logo design came from a smart push by Milovan Milenkovic, multitalented and good looking guy.

Risovic: Basic thing that bothered us from the beginning was the fact that when you simply google documentary photography and Serbia together, you don’t get any of the serious websites with representative work. There are great documentary photographers and photojournalists in Serbia. Believe us! We hope to change this with our website. And to look badass, it goes well with the fame.
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Upcoming – VII’s free online Visual Journey Seminars

Seamus Murphy - VII Visual Journey Seminar

VII have just announced a series of 5 free, online seminars with member photographers: the Visual Journey Seminars. The first of these will feature Seamus Murphy–one of my favorites,check out his website–speaking with Brian Storm of MediaStorm about his past work and recent videos for PJ Harvey. Other seminars, scheduled for 2012, will feature Ron Haviv (previously interviewed on dvafoto), Jessica Dimmock, Venetia Dearden, and Christopher Morris (also previously interviewed on dvafoto).

Though the seminars are free, space is restricted to those who RSVP prior to the seminars.

Must read: John Stanmeyer’s blog

John Stanmeyer - Blog

John Stanmeyer - Blog

I didn’t know John Stanmeyer‘s work before my internship at VII in late 2005, and then it only crept up on me. His work distinguishes itself not by the sexiness of blurry black and white or other trends of the moment but by the slow burn of a dogged, investigative, and thoughtful approach to complex and abstract notions. You might not see wars directly in most of his work, but you will see the issues that lay behind them or the numbers underpinning a report in The Economist or an exploration of long-standing sentiment giving rise to social change. This is not easy to do, but thankfully Stanmeyer has just started blogging, showing the rest of us the process that goes behind illustrating the undrawable.

Of particular interest, check out Stanmeyer’s intermittent series detailing the process of shooting a story for National Geographic, The Amazing Yellow-Bordered Magazine (and part 2). I don’t know how many features he’s shot for the magazine, but his work for the publication is always wide-ranging and intriguing. In the blog posts, Stanmeyer details how he approaches an assignment, from the first cold call from an editor to the reading of anything related to the topic to story research to working with fixers to editing work along the way to more reading and so on.

In another series of posts, Why Choose a Holga (and parts 2 and 3), Stanmeyer begins discussion by answering a question from facebook about why he chose to use a plastic Holga camera for his book Island of Spirits (website) and continues on with a discussion of the entire process of making the book. There are more posts promised in the series.

Also, make sure to check out Stanmeyer’s field recordings–he’s spent much of his past 25 years of photography with a microphone in his hand or in his ears, and some of those recordings are coming out now through the blog.

VII looks back at the world after the Cold War

VII - Questions Without Answers - published by Phaidon

VII - Questions Without Answers - published by Phaidon

VII Photo has just published will soon release a new book, Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII, and it looks like a doozy. Collecting the work of all of the full members of VII (less one James Nachtwey, who recently announced he has left the collective), the book is a compendium of stories from the past 20 years relating to our current political, social, and economic atmosphere. This book follows in the footsteps of previous VII joint publications such as War: USA, Afghanistan, Iraq and other books available in the VII store.

By the way, if you buy the book through Amazon, or anything else, after clicking the links above, dvafoto will get a small percentage of the purchase price that we put toward the cost of running the site. Thanks for the support!

Worth a look: Joachim Ladefoged’s Mirror

Longtime dvafoto favorite Joachim Ladefoged has unveiled a beautiful video project as an extension of his work on bodybuilders, Mirror. The video includes a little male and female nudity, so it might not be appropriate for workplace viewing. Beautifully lit and composed, as we expect from Ladefoged, the short film also features astounding sound design. This is a must see.

And I’ll use this as another chance to plug my favorite photo book, The Albanians (also on the VII magazine site). It can be hard to find a copy, but if you manage to get your hands on one, you won’t be disappointed .

Print auction to benefit VII and MSF

Auction to benefit MSF and VII

Auction to benefit MSF and VII

As a followup to our discussion with MSF’s Jason Cone and VII’s Ron Haviv, consider bidding for a print to benefit VII and MSF. The auction is live until Dec. 9 and there are a lot of beautiful prints available.

Cholera coverage from Haiti for MSF, including Ron Haviv, Jake Price, Moises Saman, and Gregory Vandendaelen

Cholera coverage from Haiti for MSF, including Ron Haviv, Jake Price, Moises Saman, and Gregory Vandendaelen

While you’re at it, look at MSF’s coverage of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, featuring the work of Ron Haviv, Moises Saman, Jake Price, and Gregory Vandendaelen. Haviv’s also been sending updates by twitter, including word that misinformation is running high and journalists and aid workers have been attacked.

“There is a division in photo reportage” – Antonin Kratochvil

Antonin Kratochvil writes with Michael Persson an interesting and still-timely piece about modern photo documentary / photojournalism in a 2001 report from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University: “Photojournalism and Documentary Photography: They are identical mediums, sending different messages.”

There is a division in photo reportage. There is photojournalism and there are photo documentaries: Identical mediums, but conveying very different messages. Documentary photographers reveal the infinite number of situations, actions and results over a period of time. In short, they reveal life. Life isn’t a moment. It isn’t a single situation, since one situation is followed by another and another. Which one is life?

Photojournalism—in its instant shot and transmission—doesn’t show “life.” It neither has the time to understand it nor the space to display its complexity. The pictures we see in our newspapers show frozen instants taken out of context and put on a stage of the media’s making, then sold as truth. But if the Molotov cocktail-throwing Palestinian is shot in the next instant, how is that told? And what does that make him—a nationalist or terrorist? From the photojournalist, we’ll never know since time is of the essence, and a deadline always looms. Viewers can be left with a biased view, abandoned to make up their minds based on incomplete evidence.

MSF’s Jason Cone and VII’s Ron Haviv discuss “Starved for Attention”

I’ve enjoyed watching Starved for Attention unfold after I first heard about it. The campaign is a multimedia partnership between VII and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). The project aims to raise awareness about the global malnutrition crisis. It’s an ambitious and far-reaching project, and the website is substantial: video and photos by Marcus Bleasdale, Jessica Dimmock, Ron Haviv, Antonin Kratochvil, Franco Pagetti, Stephanie Sinclair, and John Stanmeyer; calls to action; and a blog with periodic updates on the campaign and additional information about malnutrition.

I managed to snag a few moments (over email) with Jason Cone, executive producer of the Starved for Attention films and MSF’s Communications Director based out of New York, and Ron Haviv, one of VII’s founding members. I wanted to ask the two about how NGOs and photographers work together, how a campaign such as this is produced, and how NGOs and journalists work to get stories out to a wide audience within such a fractured media environment.

First, could you tell us a bit about the project. We’ve seen the website, but what other components does it have?

Jason Cone/MSF: Besides the websites, there have been multimedia exhibits of the documentaries as well as still images slideshows in New York City, Toronto, and Milan. We are planning additional exhibits in the coming months in Washington, DC; France; Switzerland; Greece; Italy, Belgium; Canada; and the UK. Other countries may be added as well. We are also making plans to present some of the films in several West African countries in the Sahel region, a major malnutrition hotspot. These showings will take the form of conventional museum exhibits along with presentations in major public spaces or even mobile trucks displaying the films. We recently created an “Action Kit” that allows the general public, students, and others to screen the films on their own and put on a Starved for Attention event to spread the word about malnutrition and join our international petition drive to rewrite food aid policy. The kit can be ordered at the Starved for Attention website here: http://www.starvedforattention.org/action-kits.php

MSF has been commissioning documentary photography for some time. How does documentary photography fit into the organization mission and goals?
MSF: MSF has been working with photographers almost since our inception in 1971. Some of the most significant and planned earlier collaborations took place with the photographer Sebastiao Salgado in Ethiopia during the 1984 famine, and with the late French photographer Didier Lefevre, who embedded with our clandestine medical teams crossing over from Pakistan into Afghanistan in the 1980s. Lefevre’s work resulted in several photo books, and the graphic novel trilogy the Photographer, which Lefevre co-authored with Emmanuel Guibert and Frederic Lemercier. (http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/events/exhibits/thephotographer/). We have worked with hundreds of other photographers over the years.

The impetus for our collaborations with photographers is that while our main priority as an organization is providing direct medical care and assistance to people struggling to survive amid conflicts, natural disasters, and epidemics in more than 60 countries around the world, we aren’t so bold to believe that our response alone is sufficient to alleviate the suffering inflicted by conflict and disease. When assistance is not enough to save lives or we face obstacle to providing aid to these populations, MSF speaks out from the perspective of what our medical teams are witnessing on the ground. Often it is photographs of an emergency that act as a catalyst for action. And the best photographers can open the eyes of the world to the suffering of people languishing in the shadows of forgotten wars and neglected diseases. This is definitely the case with a largely invisible crisis like childhood malnutrition.

I know VII and MSF have worked together before. Where did the impetus for this project come, from VII or from MSF?

MSF: Malnutrition is medical priority for MSF. We treat hundreds of thousands of children every year. Over the past few decades, the image of emaciated, fly-ridden children on the brink of death from famines and other catastrophe has come to define the visual representation of childhood malnutrition. And in this media saturated world, flush with information documenting the daily toll of human suffering, it is understandable that a visual immunity has developed as a line of defense against this clichéd imagery provoking any kind of an emotional response to tackle the crisis of childhood malnutrition head on. It was in this context that we challenged VII to capture a new visual identity for malnutrition. We had the strong experience of working together in Congo, and this offered another compelling opportunity for collaboration between VII and MSF.

Who was driving the editorial message behind it?

MSF: This was true collaboration with VII in the sense that we identified together the places to send the photographers. It was up to the photographers to find the stories. They worked alongside MSF teams in Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Congo, and India. In Mexico, US, and Bangladesh, the photographers were going after the story through other contacts and we really relied on them to find the images and footage that would bring the story home.

At the same time, I see each film as a chapter in a book. With Marcus Bleasdale piece from Djibouti, you see through the eyes of an MSF team the frustration that no matter how many children they treat this crisis is so much bigger than the response of one organization. Then we go to Burkina Faso with Jessica Dimmock to see the malnutrition through the experience of one mother, and to Bangladesh and India with Ron Haviv, and Stephanie Sinclair, respectively, to the heart of the malnutrition crisis in South Asia, and then the war zones of Congo, and finally to Mexico and the US where we see how early childhood malnutrition has been virtually wiped out with national level programs.


Bangladesh – Terrifying Normalcy / Ron Haviv and MSF

Ron Haviv, how did you get involved in the project?

Ron Haviv: Several VII photographers including myself had been looking for a follow up to our Congo project.

How does a project like this get put together? Where does the funding come from? I see LG is a sponsor–what does that mean (money, technology, staff, distribution?)?

MSF: LG’s support for Starved for Attention came after the project had already entered development in terms of the field work. Their willingness to not only support Starved for Attention but also provide funds for MSF’s malnutrition field programs bridges the two critical aspects of our work—providing assistance and speaking out. LG provided a $500,000 grant to this end, and also television screens to make the exhibits possible. Their support opened the doors to the multimedia exhibits, which was not in the original conception of the project. The project was originally solely intended for online distribution.

How does an NGO/photojournalist work with corporate sponsorship?

MSF: LG has been very easy to work with in the sense that they have been responsive to our requests for additional TV screens and other technology to support exhibits as opportunities have arisen.

Haviv: I don’t think that there is large differentiation between working for traditional media which is solely based on advertising and direct sponsorship. In actuality projects such as these give us more control over who we are funded by.

Who is involved in the production? How long did it take from the first ideas to the final product?

MSF: MSF and VII worked together with a production called Herzliya Films. The photographers and MSF project staff were in the editing rooms with Herzliya throughout the process. The project was first discussed with Ron and Stephen Mayes, managing director of VII, in January 2009. It took us about 9 months to identify all the locations, make the appropriate contacts, and schedule the photographer visits. The field work was completed in early January 2010, and the film production ran from early March and the project was launched online and in an exhibit in New York City on June 2.

Who is the intended audience for this project?
MSF: The audience ranges from the general public to policymakers. As mentioned, we will be screening the films in West Africa during a meeting of the West African Health Organization in Ivory Coast. We have sent the films to policymakers and key decision-makers at the World Food Program, World Bank, and other important players in the field of malnutrition programming.

What is the goal of the project?
MSF: The project aims are awareness raising about the issue of malnutrition—the scope of the problem but also how it is a preventable and treatable conditions with existing tools and strategies—and the petition to pressure the top food aid donor countries to ensure they provide food assistance that meets the nutritional standards and needs of young children.

Is the goal of the project to get donors, and if so which kinds? People off the streets? How do you know that the intended audience has been reached?
This project is not driven by an ambition to increase donors or fundraising. It is purely meant to advocate on behalf of the children affected by this crisis. We know we will reach the public through the website, media coverage, and events over the coming the months. We also know through direct feedback from policymakers that they are hearing our message from the project.

Where are you marketing the project? How are you getting people to know about it?
MSF: We are marketing the project in the various cities and regions where exhibits are being held. We are doing direct outreach to our donors and supporters online through email newsletters, Facebook postings, and a concerted social media campaign through Twitter (MSF-USA, MSF-UK, MSF_canada, and MSF_Australia). The more grassroots efforts with the Action Kit will take hold in the coming weeks as supporters of Starved for Attention put on their own events.

Is the general public tired of stories of starving people in far-off places? If so, how do you combat this indifference and disinterest as an organization/photographer?
MSF: I think we have tried to combat this fatigue with compelling stories about the problem but also real solutions that exist today. We are not talking about a condition requiring a new vaccine to prevent it. We know if we can find ways to get nutritious foods in the hands of mothers and the mouths of young children who need it most we can save lives right now.

Haviv: Successful stories, messages and communication occur when the photographer is able to humanize the people in the images. When someone is able to digest a statistic like 195 million and relate it to a story that touches them we are able to succeed.
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Worth a look: VII magazine

VII Magazine

VII Magazine

The photo agency/collective VII has unveiled a new online project dubbed VII Magazine. There’s a bit of content up already, including an interview with Jessica Dimmock, a presentation of Marcus Bleasdale’s fashion work for New York magazine, Ron Haviv’s recent coverage of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, a look inside Christopher Morris’ book My America (previously interviewed here at dvafoto), John Stanmeyer’s coverage of fires in the Amazon, and more.