Members of the VII Photo Agency have admitted documentary photojournalist and filmmaker Eugene Richards to their group. The members of VII voted on admitting Richards last week while all the VII members were present during their yearly business meeting at VII’s First Annual West Coast Seminar in Pasadina, CA. VII managing director Frank Evers announced the news of Richards joining VII in a press statement made yesterday.
“The work of Eugene Richards is a cornerstone of contemporary documentary photography and filmmaking. All of us at VII welcome Eugene and look forward to his comradeship and creative spirit,” said James Nachtwey, president of VII. “I am very pleased to be a part of this very creative group of people,” Richards said.
Also during the annual meeting, VII members elected Nachtwey to the position of president and a member of the board of directors, and elected Joachim Ladefoged to the position of vice president and a member of the board. Other board members elected were Antonin Kratochvil and Alexandra Boulat, and Evers will continue on as the VII’s managing director.
VII members Boulat, Ron Haviv, Gary Knight, Kratochvil, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, and John Stanmeyer were joined in 2002 by Lauren Greenfield, and in 2004 by Ladefoged. Now Richards is the latest member to join the esteemed photojournalism group.
The West Coast VII Seminar was VII’s third successful annual workshop. It was hosted by the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The next VII Seminar will take place in New York City in early 2007.
Richards was born in Dorchester, MA, and graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in English and journalism. He then studied photography with Minor White at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1968 he joined Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) and was assigned as a health care advocate to eastern Arkansas. Two years later he helped found a social service organization and a community newspaper, Many Voices, that reported on black political action and the Ku Klux Klan.
After publication of his first two books, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta (1973) and his self-published Dorchester Days (1978), Richards was invited to become a member at Magnum. He may be best known for his books — he has authored thirteen — and photographic essays on topics as diverse as breast cancer, drug addiction, poverty, emergency medicine, pediatric HIV and AIDS, the meat packing industry, the plight of the world’s mentally disabled, and aging and death in America.
His work has appeared in countless publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Esquire, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Fortune, Mother Jones and Life. Among numerous honors, he’s won the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, three National Endowment for the Arts grants, the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, the Olivier Rebbot Award twice from the Overseas Press Club, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Journalism Award for coverage of the disadvantaged.
Richards’s latest books are Stepping Through the Ashes and The Fat Baby. Co-authored by Janine Altongy, Stepping Through the Ashes, an elegy to those who lost their lives in New York on September 11, 2001, received the Golden Light Book Award for best collaboration with a writer. The Fat Baby, an anthology of textual and photographic essays produced over the past dozen years, was chosen Best Book by the University of Missouri School of Journalism’s Pictures of the Year International (POYi) contest.