Founded in September 2001, VII was named for the number of it’s founding members, all leading photojournalists and documentarians emboldened and enabled by the ability to easily distribute their work in what was then the new digital age of photography.
Their first assignment was photographing 9/11. James Nachtwey, one of the founding members of VII was packing his bags to go an assignment in the Caribbean. He looked out of his window near Wall St in New York and saw everyone in the street looking up at the sky. He saw flames coming out of the World Trade Center just a few blocks from his apartment. Nachtwey spent the next hours photographing as the Twin Towers collapsed killing thousands of civilians and over the following days he photographed the aftermath of despair. The other six founding members of the agency flew from Europe to the USA or to Afghanistan where they covered the fall of the Taliban, and unimaginable to them at the time, the beginning of Americas longest war. VII focussed much of its energy in the ensuing years documenting the wars and violence that followed in the Middle East, wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Over the intervening years the agency has evolved into a multi faceted institution, adding to its high level journalism and documentary photography new business channels in publishing, film making, and education. Since its launch VII has been recognized as one of the world’s preeminent photographer owned photography and media agencies and has inspired many imitators.