"VII was launched on September 6th 2001 when a small group of friends, seven of the world’s leading photojournalists, sat on a stage at a press conference at Via Pour L’Image photo festival in France and rather self-consciously launched a new agency that challenged the commercial status quo. At the time we had no idea whether we would survive 15 weeks and did not dare dream we would still be here after 15 years. The money we needed to pay our first salaries came out of the ATM machine at Credit Mutuel just around the corner from the Castillet and Cafe de la Poste in that small southern French town. I think if we had known what we were undertaking we may not have done it, but naivety has its benefits. I remember learning of the assassination of Ahmed Shah Masood just prior to the evening photo projection on the 9th of September at Campo Santo. Later, drinking with friends at the terrace of the Cafe de la Poste we wondered what the significance of that was. On September 11th we found out. I was in Alex Boulat's apartment in Paris with Ron Haviv watching the second plane fly into the World Trade Center trying to get in touch with Jim Nachtwey who was underneath the Twin Towers photographing them. The rest of us packed our bags and hurriedly left Paris to get to Afghanistan or New York. And so VII was born. It's been an incredible adventure since, with some great days and some dark days. The darkest came 6 years later in October 2006 when Alex died in Paris. A little bit of VII died with her but from hr passing we also found the determination to survive and face the tough environment that the media business increasingly became. When I look at the photo that Vanity Fair published of us shortly after we returned from the invasion of Iraq in 2003 - apart from marveling at how much older we look – I am filled with tremendous gratitude and many great memories of the intervening years and the wonderful people we laughed and cried with, and of those that have shared the journey with us."
– Gary Knight
By 2005 VII was listed in third position in American Photo’s “100 Most Important People in Photography.” VII now represents 19 of the world’s preeminent photojournalists whose careers span 35 years of world history.
Renowned for the quality of its photography, the group’s collective archive of over 100,000 images is an iconic summary of the defining landmarks of the late Twentieth Century and it continues to grow as the new Millennium develops. The collection has been built cover-by-cover and page-by-page in collaboration with the world’s leading magazines. Time Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Newsweek, Stern, The Sunday Times Magazine, GEO Germany, Paris Match, Le Mondeand others have helped to introduce these images to the world. VII’s cultural position has been cemented by its many exhibitions in leading museums, including the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art and the Louvre, and featured appearances at major art/photo festivals including Les Rencontres D’Arles, PhotoEspaña and Visa pour l’image. More than 70 books have been dedicated to the work of VII photographers; VII’s work has also been the subject of broadcast documentaries in USA, Europe, Japan and elsewhere.
Jocelyn Bain Hogg, the Estate of Alexandra Boulat, Stefano De Luigi, Jessica Dimmock, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Ashley Gilbertson, Ron Haviv, Ed Kashi, Gary Knight, Antonin Kratochvil, Joachim Ladefoged , Christopher Morris, Maciek Nabrdalik, Franco Pagetti, Sarker Protick, Sim Chi Yin, John Stanmeyer and Tomas van Houtryve.