Noor Images has added Tanya Habjouqa and Robin Hammond to its roster as nominees, at a time when the Amsterdam-based photo collective is looking for new storytelling approaches to document contemporary global issues.
“We want to diversify in terms of what Noor stands for,” Noor member and vice-president Benedicte Kurzen tells TIME. “We want to maintain these entrenched core values, but are also ready to explore a new visual language and new approaches on different media platforms.”
While aware of the pushback against the agency model, Habjouqa, a half-Texan, half-Jordanian photographer based in East Jerusalem, says the boutique size of Noor offers the camaraderie she needs to thrive as a photographer. “I feel isolated in East Jerusalem,” she says. “I crave to be pushed, challenged. So while some may question the financial benefits of agencies, the infusion of ideas and frenzy to stay on my toes is priceless.”
Beyond the obvious geniality that a team offers, Habjouqa values the agency’s reputation for wrestling with the ugly parts of the human experience. “They do not shirk from the serious socio-political-environmental issues,” she says. “Partially punk, utterly human and politically driven, individualistic and innovative in thinking and telling. This is the work I aspire to and the kind of individuals I want to collaborate and build a platform with.”
For Kurzen, Habjouqa’s formal approach to photography veers away from traditional photojournalism. “We come from a visual culture that Tanya is pushing up against and questioning,” she says. “Her work, which takes time to conceive and is borderline conceptual, is refreshing to the Noor members.”
Hammond’s work, from portraits of survivors of homophobia to victims of mental illness, aligns more closely with the Noor vision, Kurzen says. “His career of course is very impressive and we feel that his work grapples with difficult issues that falls in line with our overall goals as documentarians.”
Hammond remembers Noor’s launch early in his career. “Ever since, I’ve admired the vision of the photographers and watched with interest the work they’ve produced,” he tells TIME. “They have always been examples to me of great photographers coming together.”
The New Zealand photographer joined Noor to access a platform that will augment the voices of his subjects—those silenced by societies or social norms in which they must live. “On the website of Noor, a statement stands out: ‘Some things simply need to be seen,'” he says. “My work is about having them heard and having them seen.”
The two new members, who were represented by Panos Pictures, join NOOR’s team of 12 photographers: Nina Berman, Pep Bonet, Andrea Bruce, Alixandra Fazzina, Stanley Greene, Yuri Kozyrev, Benedicte Kurzen, Sebastian Liste, Kadir van Lohuizen, Jon Lowenstein, Asim Rafiqui and Francesco Zizola.
Tanya Habjouqa is a Jordanian-American photographer represented by Noor. LightBox previously published Habjouqa’s Occupied Pleasures, which documents Palestinian resilience under Israeli occupation and the aftermath of the Arab Spring and Syria’s descent into civil war through the eyes of refugees. Follow her on Twitter @thabjouqa.