These photographs represent fragments of personal projects that some of the photographers of VII are working on or assignments that they received in 2017. It is neither a definitive look at the year, or of VII, but a window into the world we have had the privilege to photograph this past year.
Photo by Joachim Ladefoged / VII. Filipino president Duterte’s war on drugs. An overcrowded prison cell at Police station 1 in the Tondo district in Manila, the Philippines on April 27, 2017. More than seventy people are crammed into a cell made to hold only forty.
Photo by Ruddy Roye / VII. Tim, A gay man who has been living with HIV shares his story about leaving his homophobic community in the Delta, to find a more liberal way of life in Jackson Mississippi.
Photo by Linda Bournane Engelberth / VII. The photographer's cousin, Sarah, shows how she covered her head when she got married. Alger, Algeria.
Photo by Antonin Kratochvil / VII. A dancer from the National Theatre Ballet on stage at Prague's National Theatre.
Photo by Maggie Steber / VII. The Secret Garden of Lily LaPalma: Edward Hopper's bedroom January 2017.
Photo by Zackary Canepari / VII. Olympic Gold Medal Boxer Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, 20, at Gallo Boxing Gym in Lansing, Michigan.
Photo by Gary Knight / VII. Nguon Lap. 44. Fisherwoman and farmer. L’Vea Village. Seam Reap Provence.Ms. Nguon is a single mother of three children. Like many villagers she fishes and farms to provide food for the table, any excess she sells or trades. Her village is at the northern foot of the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen, a small mountain of immense cultural and historical significance in Cambodia. It is where the Khmer Empire that built the temples of Angkor Wat was born in the 9th century and an area of intense fighting during the civil war in Cambodia that followed the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1978. I walked through L’Vea village on a long-range patrol with KPNLF and Khmer Rouge soldiers in 1990. I revisited this village for the VII Foundation, working on a project that investigates the successes and failures of peace treaties in 6 different countries. I met Ms. Nguon who was setting fish traps in a brook at the northern edge of the village. “Life is better than it was before. In the past, there was a lot of fighting here and we could not move freely because we were afraid of being killed and we were afraid of the soldiers. In this area, there were many Khmer Rouge. Now there is no more fighting and my children can attend school. What we need most here is good roads so that we can take our produce to market and water pumps because we have none in the village. We drink rain water or use water from the rice paddies or the river.My husband left me three years ago so I have to take care of my children by myself. My parents taught me to fish. I fish every day”
Photo by Tomas van Houtryve / VII. Donald Trump supporters, John Henson, far left, and Mike Wick, center left smile while Barack Obama supporter, Marvellous Guerrier, center right, remains somber at the National Mall during the Inauguration Day ceremony in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.
Photo by Esa Ylijaasko / VII Mentor Program. Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate the referendum results on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey in April 2017.
Photo by Sara Terry / VII. Women, and men, march down Main Street, with snow falling and temperatures in the twenties, during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The march, organized by comedian Chelsea Handler, was one of dozens across the US, the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as President.
Photo by Mojgan Ghanbari / VII Mentor Program. 25-year-old Roya poses for a portrait in her room in Karaj, Iran in August of 2017.
Photo by Nichole Sobecki / VII. Ayan Abdi Ahmed meets Maryam Hussein to catch up after work at Horyal Secondary School, where Maryam works as a teacher, in Dadaab Refugee, Kenya on July 20, 2017. Both friends applied for a WUSK scholarship this year but only Ayan was accepted. Ayan — a Somalia refugee living in Dadaab camp in northern Kenya — was accepted into WUSC's Student Refugee Program. The Canadian program offers the winners a full scholarship to college, plus permanent residence and the possibility to eventually secure citizenship for their families.
Photo by Ilvy Njiokiktjien / VII. John Francis, 12, poses with a mask he found in the IDP camp in Wau in Western Bahr-el-Gazal, South Sudan in March 2017.
Photo by Franco Pagetti / VII. Amatrice, Itay, May 29, 2017. 10 months after the earthquake, many collapsed building remain in the same situation. The residents had to leave and stay with parents, some far away from Amatrice. The tower clock marks the hour when the first shock was reported on the 26 of August at 3:36 AM.
Photo by Jessica Dimmock / VII. Students of Northwestern Academy dance during their senior prom on the Detroit Princess Riverboat in Detroit, MI on May 26, 2017.
Photo by Danny Wilcox Frazier / VII. A small dog at sunset in Allen, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota (2017).
Photo by Stefano De Luigi / VII. Mohammed Saadi, owner of the only emporium left in the village of Al Burj in the West Bank, on May 30, 2017.
Photo by Ron Haviv / VII. A survivor of the genocide in Srebrenica, takes a moment at the grave of a family member, moments after Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic was convicted of genocide by the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on November 22, 2017.
Photo by Ed Kashi / VII. Looking into the eyes of teenagers is a window into the present and a glimpse into the future. The eyes filling this grid are those of Jewish, Muslim and Christian high school students, ages 15 to 18, photographed in Israel in May of 2017.
Photo by Christopher Morris / VII. Supreme Court of The United States in the East Conference room of the Supreme Court, a ceremonial room used for meetings, receptions, and special events, on May 31, 2017. Seated from left, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.Standing behind from left, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Photo by Anush Babajanyan / VII. Anjelika Ayaryan, 10, stands under a tree as her friend Tatevik picks berries in Shushi, Nagorno Karabakh, on June 3, 2017. Anjelika is one of the seven Ayaryan children. She lives and studies in Shushi, Nagorno Karabakh together with her two sisters. The rest of their family lives in Martakert, Nagorno Karabakh.
Photo by Ashley Gilbertson / VII Photo for UNICEF. Amira Raslan's children, Amr (left), 8, and Karam, 5, prepare for home made dinner at home inside the Marienfelde emergency reception center on September 3, 2017. Amr was experiencing psycological difficulties last year, with invasive memories of fighting in Syria, and today, after more than a year of school, and counselling from his parents, he appears to be far more outgoing and happier. "I was talking to him a lot, often while he was playing. We talked about Syria all the time. He always wanted to know what was happening in syria. He wanted to know why we are here and why we couldn't go home." Said Amira, "He didn't understand what we are. So I told him 'you are a Syrian boy. We are Syrian people. We went to Lebanon for a short time, and then to Germany because that's where your grandpa is. Here you can dream of better, beautiful, future.'"This camp was built in 1953 to house refugees escaping East Germany, and since the 2015 refugee crisis, it has been used by the government to house refugees, largely from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Raslan family arrived in Berlin in December, 2015, and have been settled in three different types of refugee housing since then.
Photo by Ziyah Gafic / VII. Athletes preparing for diving competition from a dam in old town Sarajevo on August 30, 2017.
Photo by Daniel Schwartz / VII. An Orthodox Jew is on his way to the Synagogue Agudas Achim in the Aussersihl district of Zurich on May 22, 2017.
As the group of photographers sat on a stage at the annual Visa pour l’image festival in Perpignan, France on September 8, 2001, the mood was a little despondent. Photojournalism seemed to be on the wane, celebrity coverage was everywhere. But what they were about to reveal gave reason for hope. They were there to announce the formation of a small, independent photo collective – part traditional agency, part global network reliant on the web – to be based not in Paris, London or New York, but at seven separate laptops around the world - wherever they may be from Manhattan to Bali. The VII Photo Agency (pronounced ‘Seven’) was in business. And unbeknown to it yet, its first big test would come in three days time.
“We were inventing as we went along,” says the agency’s initial strategist, Gary Knight. “We paid the lawyer in prints. That week in Perpignan was the first time we had all met in the same room and had the opportunity to go through the business model together, face to face.” It was not a new idea but an existing one in a new age – a vote against the mainstream and its launch brought to mind that of Magnum Photos in 1947.
The story of how one of the seven photographers on the stage that day came to record events in New York three days later is just one of the many remarkable moments from the agency’s 20 year history documented in both words and pictures in Questions Without Answers: The World In Pictures By The Photographers Of VII.
As David Friend, Vanity Fair’s Editor of Creative Development and Life magazine’s director of photography during the 1990s says in his introduction to the book: “As the world changed, so the cliché goes, there was a corresponding change in the way we watched the world change. The modern camera, and its new promise of synchronized universal regard, have made combatants, governments and the world at large not only more accountable but accountable in the here and now.”
In our First Look Friday gallery above we've taken just a little from each of the categories covered in the book to give you a flavour of what you'll find inside. Click through it now and watch out for more stories and interviews with the photographers themselves in the coming weeks.