Photographers Sarker Protick, from Bangladesh, and Danny Wilcox Frazier, based in Iowa, have joined VII Photo as interim members.
“I’ve been looking a long time for a place where I feel I can collaborate with colleagues, not just in a business sense, but more in a communal sense in regards to work and group projects,” Wilcox Frazier tells TIME. “I was also interested in that educational spirit that VII has had since its inception. I spend the majority of my time in the field, working on long-form pieces and assignments, but I’m also an educator. I’m teaching workshops and even classes at the University of Iowa. It just seemed like the right time and the perfect fit and I’m very excited about it.”
Focusing primarily on the “emotional landscape of isolated communities,” Wilcox Frazier intends to keep documenting the reality of small towns and villages that struggle to maintain their autonomy and culture. He also strives to help VII educate the public on the importance of visual storytelling. “Never before have so many people been personally engaged in photography,” he says. “We have this unique opportunity to take advantage of that and help people see visual storytelling from our point of view. They are bombarded day-in and day-out with so much visual information that doesn’t spark that social conscience; that doesn’t force them to interact with the world around them. We need photography that engages people with issues that are often beyond their small spheres and forces them to think about the other.”
Protick, 29 and from Dhaka, Bangladesh, joins just a few weeks after accepting a World Press Photo for his work in his home country. “I think we are living in the most exciting time for photography,” he tells TIME. “Sadly, at the same time this is the most difficult time for photographers. There are still so many misconceptions and mistreatments photographers go through. But I am optimistic. I look forward to contribute to build a better time.”
He adds: “Honestly I feel excited, proud and a bit scared to work with this group of individuals. I have been teaching for last two years and it’s time I get back to my works, what I like doing the most. There’s so much I will learn from these people, I cannot be more happy at this point.”
The new additions expand the agency’s roaster to 20. In recent months, photographers Lynsey Addario and Stephanie Sinclair left VII.
The agency has also found its new CEO, Richard D. Schoenberg, a year after Nick Papadopoulos left the role in April 2014. He plans on meeting the market’s challenges “head-on with new ideas and a rekindled enthusiasm,” he says. Schoenberg used to be on VII’s board until five years ago when he left the agency.
Lucia De Stefani is a contributor to TIME LightBox.