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VII Membership and VII NETWORK

Folks:

Heads up…we are posting information on the VII website about applications for membership and the VII Network. Will go live tomorrow. Just in case some of you are interested…

check it out tomorrow at www.viiphoto.com

Best,

Frank

by [a former member] at 2008-03-11 01:35:18 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Venice CA , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

brilliant! :)))

Can I vote (as a non-member ;)))), pretty please) for Balazs Gardi as full member! That brilliant boy needs to be member: he’s a poet of the highest order!

My buddy Don aint bad either (and he gets along well with Mrs. Black ;))))

Steph and Jessica as well: hope they all get full membership!

good luck y’all!! :))

cheers
bob

by [former member] | 11 Mar 2008 02:03 (ed. Mar 11 2008) | toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
I don’t understand what is the advantage of been a member of VII more far that the publicity. I don’t fit in the VII profile (no Irak, no Chavez) but i am interested because we can learn from the important agencies. I live in a country that don’t paste pictures in big medias frequently but the organization issue is something i can learn to apply here in a less global media. Why some people go out of VII (General no personal)? is not an issue about VII only, i ask the same questions with Magnum. But i need to understand some things because the only alternative i found to photojournalism in the development countries are independent agencies or collectives. Thanks in advice for any help.

by Hernan Zenteno | 11 Mar 2008 04:03 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
This Membership vs Network structure raises some interesting questions about where VII is heading and the industry as a whole, but I will have to wait to post them until the new info is up on the site. WIll check in soon.

by Jon Anderson | 11 Mar 2008 16:03 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Folks:

OK, the information is up online. The photographers will be reviewing and discussing all submissions at the next AGM in May (19/20th). People will be notified thereafter.

Best.

by [former member] | 11 Mar 2008 17:03 | Venice CA, United States | | Report spam→
Hernan -

Ultimately, the difference between a photo agency and a photo collective is that one is a practical vehicle for generating additional revenues from assignments and image sales, while the other is about joining a group of like-minded photographers who share a common sense of purpose and pursuit of a particular mission.

VII and Magnum are just two of the more well-known collectives, but there are many more out there which share the same common path to their formation. Joining such collectives is a very difficult process, as they tend to be small and adhere to certain standards and constitutional guidelines, which may not apply when joining a (non-collective) photo agency.

At the end of the day, everyone has to decide what it is that they want from a photo agency. Which way you go is not a reflection in any way on your talents. There are more incredible photographers who are not in such collectives, than those who are. Which makes sense, since there are barely 50 working members of VII and Magnum alone.

From what I have seen, the single most important determinant in a photographer’s career, is not the agency that they are part of. It is the photographer alone who determines his/her success. What they do, how hard they work and apply themselves, their passion for the craft and the subject matter that they are interested in. Everything else is secondary to this primary driver.

Collectives can be nice things to be part of, but they don’t make the photographer.

Hope this helps.

by [former member] | 11 Mar 2008 18:03 (ed. Mar 11 2008) | Venice CA, United States | | Report spam→
thanks Frank. I still not understand some of the organization things and the benefits of been a member against been part of the network but i suppose is the kitchen of the entreprise. Anyway, is interesting see how goes on. Saludos

by Hernan Zenteno | 11 Mar 2008 20:03 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | | Report spam→
I agree with Frank about the photographer being the main driver. Most of the people I know at these two collectives and others not mentioned above are all “self-starters” and independently motivated. They work extremely hard. Even if they were not associated with any particular organization they would certainly continue to distinguish themselves in their endeavors. Undoubtedly, however, the collective or agency serves in part, through its prestige (which accrues as a result of its history and its reputation for assembling an exemplary staff of photographers) to further distinguish those individuals and confer on them a kind of imprimatur which can be very useful when it comes to getting assignments, grant money, and other perks. This is no small thing.

Course, these days it is easier to function independently and there are those who prefer to do so — they manage to get enough work, they pursue individual projects that garner them a certain fame and more importantly immeasurable satisfaction (because after all that is presumably what they are in it for, to get their personal work out there in the form they most desire), and thus they feel they can dispense with the services of an agency. Myself, I am of two minds on this point, because while I have to admit that my earlier association with Black Star was very helpful to me in unexpected ways, I was also very frustrated during my time there and became much happier once I turned fully independent — nonetheless, being associated with Black Star, which was once a name to reckon with, probably helped me to achieve that independence, so I am grateful.

Another thing about collectives that can be beneficial is the connection it gives you to other photographers, like minded or not. The famous conflicts at Magnum notwithstanding, there are sure to be lots of intense relations there that benefit the individual members, giving them new ideas, pushing them to new heights, and consoling them too, because after all we all tend to work solo and it is nice to be able to connect with other photographers and shoot the shit. My brief association with the short lived Anarchy Images brought me into contact with a truly interesting and enlivening bunch of photographers, and I am grateful for that too.

The industry has changed greatly in the past ten years and is changing still. The role of the agency is changing with it. Black Star once had a full staff dedicated just to selling stock imagery from the immense library, and there were photographers who made a handsome salary just off the sales of their stock, wholly apart from the assignment work, of which there was both editorial and commercial jobs to choose from. Nowadays agencies are more streamlined, smaller, more “boutique” — or they are megalithic like Getty. It is not clear which of these models will dominate the future, but one thing for sure is that agencies no longer provide all the services they once did.

This move by VII to create a pool of “non-member” photographers, which benefits VII in its attempt to satisfy the demands of its clients worldwide, is an interesting step, given the context I have just outlined, because it would appear that the organization is thus attempting to straddle the fence that nominally divides a collective from an agency. While the non members no doubt are chosen for their ideological and esthetic harmony with the goals of the collective, thus ensuring that the organization indeed has a meaningful identity, this structure is much more in tune with traditional agency practices, due to the dual status of members and nonmembers and the fact that the Network photographers are there in part at least to help the organization function more efficiently in the marketplace, providing greater coverage and a broader range of stories. As to the former point, namely the status of the nonmembers, this is of greater consequence to those associated with the “network”: what rights or privileges are included in this category? What precisely differentiates members from nonmembers? Traditionally nonmembership has meant that an agency does not provide its full services to this type of contributor and that it mainly offers broad distribution in the form of “syndication” as well as stock sales, though some representation is vouchsafed when the individual has a good story to sell and hustles it accordingly among the editorial staff. I suspect that this is not the case with VII, which is probably going to operate more along the lines of Redux, the first of these smaller organizations to create a dual system of members and contributors. But given that VII explicitly states that it will limit membership to fourteen, one has to ask just what this means for the contributors to the Network, some of whom likely desire full membership. Yet the Network cannot really be considered as a conduit to full membership, given that eventually the fourteen slots will be filled and association with the Network will consequently be only an end in itself. So, as an end in itself, what will be the advantages to those working with the Network?

Let me be perfectly clear, none of what I have written here is intended as criticism or as a caveat for those who would like to apply to the Network. On the contrary, I think it is a significant initiative and I bet that it will be of great benefit to its associates. I also have a feeling that it will operate in new ways and be open to innovation. No, I raise these points simply because I am interested in the direction that changes in the industry are taking and because many members of LS are curious about what the whole agency thing is about and whether it can help them, so it is perhaps useful to initiate a little discussion on the forum.

by Jon Anderson | 12 Mar 2008 17:03 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Hmmmn, am I blind, but I can’t find it on the VII site??

by Shayne Robinson | 12 Mar 2008 18:03 | Johannesburg, South Africa | | Report spam→
Shayne:

http://www.viiphoto.com/membership_network.html

by eva mbk | 12 Mar 2008 18:03 | Tuscany, Italy | | Report spam→

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Participants

Hernan Zenteno, Photographer Hernan Zenteno
Photographer
Buenos Aires , Argentina ( EZE )
Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Shayne Robinson, Photojournalist Shayne Robinson
Photojournalist
(Have passport - Will Travel)
Johannesburg , South Africa
eva mbk, cabby eva mbk
cabby
Tuscany , Italy ( SAY )


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