Featured stories by Stefano De Luigi and Ed Kashi, an interview with Jocelyn Bain Hogg, and recent publications by Tomas Van Houtryve, Jessica Dimmock and more!
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Dear Friends of VII

September 2016


BUSHMEAT: A Silent Ecological Disaster

by Stefano De Luigi / VII


This report strives to illustrate an objective reality: the trade and, effectively, the progressive depletion of fauna in Chad and Cameroon, as well as the struggle against poaching led by organizations in these countries and also in France.

This work has been created with the help of the French association Sauvegarde Faunas Sauvage, and with the assistance of the organization’s president Jean Paul Burget who, for almost 10 years, has bravely fought against poaching. He has infiltrated the branches of the illegal trade of protected fauna and ivory and has helped organizations in these countries arrest the offenders.


In Cameroon, the consumption of protected game is a cultural habit, as it is in many other African countries. While commerce is in theory, forbidden, it is a tolerated practice. Bushmeat can be found and purchased in the markets of Cameroon’s urban centers where is it discreetly displayed. Sales are made to the sheltered eyes of the authorities, but they can be seen, as these photos (sometimes taken with the help of a hidden camera) show.

While these images may be shocking for the Western public, they are not foreign to the eyes of the citizens of Cameroon or Chad. What this work strives to underline, is that the consummation of bushmeat has transcended its traditional function, and now has assumed an industrial dimension due to the migration of rural populations to large urban centers. If no action is taken, the fauna of these two countries, and that of many others countries in Africa, will be at risk of disappearing, creating an inevitable environmental disaster.


An economic aspect is also illustrated in this report; one that relates to the export of this game to Europe, where importing and consumption is strictly forbidden. Done in order to satisfy the need of the diaspora, there exist tremendous economic interests. Every year, around 300 tons of African game arrive illegally in France. As it travels from the African continent to Europe, the price increases 500%.

For the ivory the headline is clear — the principal destination of its clandestine trade is China.

It should be recognized that Chad is fighting against poaching. But in other countries, such as in Cameroon, this fight is not as popular. A question may be raised: what is the massacre of 500 elephants worth, for example, what happened in Cameroon in the park of Boudandjida in 2012 by Sudanese poachers, when compared to the killing of 2,000 people by the hand of Boko Haram of in the village of Kolofata in north Cameroon in 2014? A large part of the revenue of the illegal ivory trade (around €700 per kilo) goes to sustain the terrorist organization of Boko Haram.

The answer lies in the complicated entwinement of private affairs, undercover economies, and the egoism and corruption that feeds the continuous massacre of animals that is effectively tied to the massacre of human beings. The evidence of this link is not widely known but it is shown often in the investigations of CONAC (National Anti-corruption Commission of Cameroon).

It is difficult to speak out, but it is even more difficult to remain silent.


In the Hot Zone:  CKDnT in Sri Lanka    

by Ed Kashi / VII

Suffering through nearly three decades of bloody secessionist fighting, Sri Lanka endured unrelenting hardships for the population, environment and economy. Although the civil war ended in May 2009, the nation still faces a fierce battle. Like many other countries around the globe, Sri Lanka is going up against a seemingly undefeatable foe that threatens that nation’s healthcare system and many of its rural people – Chronic Kidney Disease of nontraditional causes (CKDnT). Since 2013, I have made seven trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador, India, and, most recently, Sri Lanka to document this global health crisis that has primarily – and devastatingly – impacted poor, rural, farming communities.

For over 2,500 years, Sri Lankans have cultivated rice in the verdant and gentle paddies of this teardrop-shaped island nation. The North Central Province (NCP) is the largest province covering 16% of the country and is comprised of 2 districts, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. It was here that early dreams of agricultural self-sufficiency came into focus as Sri Lankan farmers dotted the land with rice paddies that today produce enough rice to feed the nation’s 20 million people. Besides the predominant rice crops, other products that are cultivated throughout the year include sesame, millet, chilies, peanuts, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. More than 65% of Anuradhapura’s population depends on farming. Considered the rice bowl or granary of Asia for centuries, Sri Lanka had no historical record of kidney disease of any kind. However, in response to the 1960s Green Revolution, ancient farming practices gave way to modern techniques and chemicals.

Ed Kashi
Ed Kashi

Though experts acknowledge the enormous financial, societal, and ecological implications of CKDnT, those involved with efforts to defeat the disease are still debating its multi-factorial causes. Doctors, scientists, researchers, and activists all suspect that exposure to high concentrations of toxins from the heavy usage of agricultural chemicals begun in the 1970s plays a major role. Similar to Central America in both the lush, gorgeous fertile land and the dry, often-blistering heat, Sri Lanka’s NCP epitomizes the disturbingly perfect place for the emerging worldwide health epidemic of CKDnT. Over the past 30 years, the NCP has seen a surge in CKDnT since the condition was first diagnosed in the remote farming community of Padawiya. Known as “Rajarata Kidney Disease” in Sri Lanka, this epidemic has already killed more people in the NCP than the total number of deaths from one of Asia’s longest lasting armed conflicts. This is where I went to document CKDnT and its impact on local agricultural workers.

Fifteen to twenty years after glyphosate (a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant) was introduced in Sri Lanka, the older men began to experience symptoms of CKDnT. Residues of heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead and mercury are now present in virtually all water, soil, and human samples. Along with chemical exposure, dehydration, contaminated water from shallow wells and tube wells, modern diet, and extreme working conditions have also been postulated as contributing factors to the disease, which is now showing up increasingly in younger generations.

Ed Kashi

The fear and associated stigma CKDnT elicits have unfortunately spread beyond the NCP to neighboring provinces. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 15% of the rural population in the NCP and the more southern Uva province are struggling with CKDnT. In Anuradhapura district alone, where people exist amid low socio-economic conditions in the many small villages, approximately 16,500 CKDnT cases are currently devastating families.

While cases of the disease affecting women and children have been reported, the majority of CKDnT victims are male farmers aged 40 to 60. The impact on not only their lives and that of their families but also on their communities is profound. Within a mere 2 years after initial diagnosis, almost 80% of CKDnT patients suffer total kidney failure and ultimately die. Since a death represents not just the loss of a loved one, but also often the loss of a family’s main breadwinner, the consequences go beyond personal tragedy – families left in financial ruin, children forced to work rather than attend school, and rising crime rates.

Calm nurturing in more natural/peaceful environments, prayer, and the use of indigenous medicine employing certain herbal plants and mixtures combine to help in some cases, and I photographed in one such alternative of traditional medicine facility in the rural suburbs of Anuradhapura. While more advanced, interventionist Western medical approaches involving dialysis and transplants to treat CKDnT help to sustain life a bit longer, there is increasing desire for a more natural and less costly approach in Sri Lanka. Sterile and dehumanizing dialysis clinics, high medical costs, lack of specialist doctors and nurses, and a shortage of treatment facilities make death nearly inevitable for most of the poverty-stricken victims, even though this small country is doing a remarkable job in responding to this health crisis, more needs to be done.

Over the past 20 years, 23,000 people have died from and an estimated 69,000 have been diagnosed with CKDnT. Sadly, sympathy and support owed its sufferers often yield to indifference as political and economic interests shroud this vital health issue. As in other countries that share both the CKDnT epidemic and the apathy towards its victims, Sri Lanka must make this unexplained, fatal illness one of its most urgent environment-related national health issues. With environmental sustainability, human welfare, and simple survival of a civilization lying at the heart of current social movements, understanding and eliminating this mysterious killer is of global concern.



A Social Media Campaign with Meals on Wheels & the Ad Council

More than 10 million (1 in 6) seniors in the U.S. face the threat of hunger and more than 15 million (1 in 4) are living in isolation. Meals on Wheels America is a national network of local community organizations that deliver meals, friendly visits and safety checks to our nation’s most vulnerable seniors. With the senior population projected to double by 2050, and an aging volunteer base, Meals on Wheels America, in partnership with the Ad Council, has launched the “America, Let’s Do Lunch” campaign to recruit a new pipeline of volunteers to meet the growing need.

This summer, VII photographers Ed Kashi, Ron Haviv, Ashley Gilbertson and Maciek Nabrdalik captured and shared photographs of Meals on Wheels clients across the country in order to support the “America, Let’s Do Lunch” campaign.
Photo of Henry, 86, by Ed Kashi / VII.
Read his story here.
Photo of Giselle, 77, by Maciek Nabrdalik / VII.
Read her story here.
Photo of Ray, 77, by Ashley Gilbertson / VII.
Read his story here.
Photo of Ann, 88, by Ron Haviv / VII. 
Read her story here.


Questions Without Answers

In honor of VII’s 15th anniversary, the group projects Questions Without Answers and the SMILE will be exhibited at the Czech Photo Centre in Prague from Oct. 14 – Nov. 30, 2016. 

Exhibitions & Screenings

with Maciek Nabrdalik
Sept. 27 - Oct. 28, 2016
Opening reception on Oct. 5, 2016 at 7pm
Crossings Gallery of Harvard Ed Portal
Allston, MA

with Arnau Bach
Oct. 1 - 30, 2016
Photoreporter Festival
Saint-Brieuc, France

with Ed Kashi
Oct. 1 - 30, 2016
Photoreporter Festival
Saint-Brieuc, France

with Tomas van Houtryve
Oct. 4 - Nov. 23, 2016
Artist Reception on Oct. 13, 2016
Anastasia Photo
New York, NY

with VII
Oct. 6 – 8, 2016
6:30 – 9:00 PM
Grace Plaza
New York, NY 10110

with VII
Oct. 14 - Nov. 30, 2016
Czech Photo Centre
Prague, Czech Republic
(Private opening on Oct. 13, 2016)

with Sim Chi Yin
Oct. 19 to Nov. 20, 2016
Chapel Gallery, Objectifs

with VII
Nov. 1, 2016 - Feb. 19, 2017
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
Winston-Salem, NC

with Ed Kashi
through Nov. 27, 2016
CBK Groningen

with Ed Kashi
Nov. 30, 2016 - Jan. 11, 2017
C40 Mayors Summiti
Mexico City, Mexico

Speaking Engagements

with Ron Haviv
Sept. 30, 2016 at 7pm
Hyderabad, India

with Ron Haviv
Oct. 2, 2016 at 7pm
Hyderabad, India

with Gary Knight and Ron Haviv
Oct 8, 2016 from 7:30 - 9pm
Chapel Gallery, Objectifs

with Jessica Dimmock, Ashley Gilbertson & Ron Haviv
Oct. 21, 2016 from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
PhotoPlus International Expo
New York, NY

Find VII on CreativeLive

CreativeLive empowers people to unleash their potential by bringing the world’s greatest experts directly to users, live, and unlocks previously closed doors by making dynamic education accessible to everyone.

The following VII classes are available now:


with VII
Berlin, Germany
Sept. - March, 2017

with Gary Knight
Sep. 26, 2016 at 3:45PM EDT
Free online broadcast on CreativeLive

with Ron Haviv
Oct. 1, 2016 - Oct. 2, 2016
Indian Photography Festival
Hyderabad, India

with Ed Kashi
Oct. 5, 2016
Paris, France
with Gary Knight and Ron Haviv
Oct. 9, 2016

with Ed Kashi
Oct. 21 - 24, 2016
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gary Knight
Nov. 1, 2016 - Dec. 15, 2016
Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos

with Sim Chi Yin
Dec. 3, 2016 - Dec. 10, 2016
Siem Reap, Cambodia


Tomas van Houtryve / VII for Le Monde

Commemorations in NY, 15 Years After the 9/11 Attacks

Tomas van Houtryve

Ed Kashi / VII in Our Times

The Price of Sugar

Sarker Protick / VII on Refinery29

Emotional Photos Reveal What It's Really Like To Be Blind In India

Sarker Protick / VII on Refinery29

Jessica Dimmock / VII for The New York Times

The Serial Killer’s Co-Author

Jessica Dimmock

Arnau Bach / VII Mentor Program in Stern Magazine

Département 93


Until October 8, 2016, share a photo on Instagram, along with a 50-100 word caption and the hashtag #LensOnSocialJustice, of a pressing social justice issue and be entered for a chance to win a two-hour photography critique with VII Co-Founder Gary Knight, plus three VII CreativeLive classes. Learn more here.

VII announced a collaboration with Open Hands Initiative designed to raise awareness on critical social justice issues affecting communities across the globe today.

Ron Haviv was selected to participate in the 2016 Social Good Summit’s #Instacorps and shared behind-the-scenes images from the summit on Instagram. 

A profile of Sim Chi Yin was published in Singapore’s Eo Hoe Hean magazine.

Ali Arkady of the VII Mentor Program presented his work at TEDxBaghdad 2016.

Danny Wilcox Frazier was interviewed about his experience photographing the U.S. presidential campaign on French radio.

September marked the 15th anniversary of VII Photo Agency's formation. Founding member Gary Knight shared his thoughts on the birth of the collective and the agency's beginnings at Visa Pour l'Image-Perpignan.

Jessica Dimmock taught a class on CreativeLive about the transition from stills to motion. Watch the class ”Use Your Photographic Eye To Become A Videographer" here

Furkan Temir of the VII Mentor Program was selected as a finalist in the Ian Parry Scholarship. An exhibition including Furkan’s work will be held in London this autumn. 

The names of the photographers selected to participate in VII Masterclass Berlin were announced.


Jocelyn Bain Hogg spoke to A Small Voice podcast about his formative years,The Firm and much more. 

"It’s given me confidence. From being a very shy, awkward kid, that camera, that passport, it’s enabled me to do things and be places I never would’ve been. And it’s weird, isn’t it? You’re spending your life with a black box where your face should be, and you’re really hiding behind it in a way. A weapon and a shield. It’s both." 

Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi spoke to B&H's Photography Podcast about incorporating mobile photography into journalistic work.

"It’s how you use the tool, it’s how you move through the world, it’s how you look at people, and it’s how you position yourself. That has more to do with [the shot] than the size or the sound of the equipment." 


Jocelyn Bain Hogg

Sim Chi Yin

Stefano De Luigi

Jessica Dimmock

Ashley Gilbertson

Ron Haviv

Ed Kashi

Gary Knight

Antonin Kratochvil

Joachim Ladefoged
Christopher Morris

Maciek Nabrdalik

Danny Wilcox Frazier

Franco Pagetti

Sarker Protick

John Stanmeyer

Tomas van Houtryve

The Estate of Alexandra Boulat

VII Mentor Program

Ali Arkady (Iraq), Arnau Bach (France/Spain), Linda Bournane Engelberth (Norway), Luisa Dorr (Brazil), Mojgan Ghanbari (Iran), Furkan Temir (Turkey), Esa Ylijaasko (Finland)
Copyright © 2016 VII Photo Agency, All rights reserved.

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