Contact Press Images, the international picture agency, was cofounded in New York in 1976 by French-British editor Robert Pledge and American photojournalist David Burnett. The purpose of the agency was to facilitate the independent production of in-depth documentary essays, and to develop a humanist photography attuned to major international issues and social currents.
Contact, in its early years trained its collective lens on the little-known disease, AIDS but has long specialized in long-term projects concerning political, religious, and human rights issues. Bringing together men and women of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, the key to its singularity and strength, the agency has conceived and produced exhibitions, monographs, catalogues, and many individual and collective works for more than three decades. Contact Photographers have been awarded every major award in photojournalism, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, World Press Photo Premier Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.
Kristen Ashburn was born in 1973 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA. Committed to humanitarianism beyond the lens, while still in college she made five trips to Romania as a volunteer working with neurologically-impaired orphans, and in 1997 established an American chapter of the Romanian Challenge Appeal, becoming its first chairperson. In 2001, the year she joined Contact Press Images, she began to photograph the impact of AIDS in southern Africa, for which she received the 2002 Marty Forscher Fellowship for Humanistic Photography. She is the recipient of the Canon 2004 Female Photojournalist Award given annually by the French Association of Women Journalists (AFJ) in support for her work on AIDS. She has since produced essays on Palestinian suicide bombers and Israeli settlers in the Occupied Territories. She is based in New York City.
Alexandra Avakian was born in 1960 in New York, USA and began her photographic career in 1984. She has since traveled extensively, living in Moscow for two years (1990-1992), where she covered the unraveling of the Soviet Union for Time, and two years in the Gaza strip (1993-1995), documenting daily life. She also covered the uprising in Haiti in 1986; the Palestinian intifada from 1987 to 1995; the Armenian earthquake in 1988; the fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechoslovakia's "Velvet Revolution" and the funeral of Ayatollah Khomenei in 1989; and civil war and famine in Somalia and Sudan — where she spent six months in 1992-1993. A regular contributor to the National Geographic, for which she produced in-depth essays on Romania, Armenia, reform in Iran, and Muslims in America, among others, her work has also been published in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Life, and Natural History in the US, Stern and GEO in Germany, Paris-Match and Libération in France, The London Sunday Times Magazine and The Independent Magazine in the UK, and many others. She joined Contact Press Images in 1991. She is based in Washington, D.C.
David Burnett was born in 1946 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and early in his career became the last photojournalist from Life magazine to cover the Vietnam War. He has since worked in over 60 countries, documenting the coup in Chile (1973), revolution in Iran (1979), famine in Ethiopia (1984), the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), and the US military intervention in Haiti (1994). A co-founder of Contact Press Images in 1976 with Robert Pledge, he is the winner of the 1973 Robert Capa Gold Medal, the 1979 World Press Photo Premier Award, and the Overseas Press Club's Olivier Rebbot "Best Reporting from Abroad" Award in 1984. A veteran journalist of the political scene in Washington, he has photographed every American president from JFK to George W. Bush (1963-2004). He has also covered every summer Olympics Games from 1984 to 2004, and is the author of E-motion: The Spirit of Sport. Since his early work from Vietnam, he has been a regular contributor to Time magazine. He is based in Washington, D.C.
Stephen Dupont was born in 1967 in Sydney, Australia and began his photographic career working for Reuters in Africa. He has since covered conflicts throughout the world, including Kashmir, Indonesia, East Timor, Rwanda, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and is the recipient of several World Press Photo Foundation awards. He is also the author of Steam: Indias Last Steam Trains (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 1999) and Lutte, a four-continent project on wrestlers around the world (Marval 2003). He joined Contact Press Images in 1997 and is based in Sydney.
Frank Fournier was born in 1948 in Saint-Sever, France. The son of a surgeon he embarked on four years of medical studies before beginning his career in photography in 1975 in New York City. He first joined the office staff of Contact Press Images in 1977 and became a member photographer in 1982. A deeply humanistic photographer, he has since produced work on infants with AIDS in Romania, rape victims during the civil war in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In 1986 he received the World Press Photo Premier Award for his portrait of Omayra Sanchez, the 13-year-old victim of the Nevada del Ruiz volcano's eruption in Columbia. He is based in New York City.
Lori Grinker was born in 1957 in Freeport, New York, USA. While still a student at Parsons School of Design, she began her photographic career documenting the rise of the 13-year old future heavyweight championship boxer Mike Tyson. She joined Contact Press Images in 1988. Since then, in addition to her reportage of events such as the destruction of the World Trade Center, she has delved into long-term book projects including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (Jewish Publication Society), and most recently, Afterwar: Veterans from a World in Conflict (de.MO 2004), her 16-year project on veterans of the last century. She is based in New York City.
Sean Hemmerle was born in 1966 in Tempe, Arizona, USA. After serving in the U.S. Army (1984-1988), he attended the University of Miami and earned an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1997. He quickly established his reputation as a sought-after architectural and urban landscape photographer, and since 9/11 has turned his eye toward documenting the effects of war in New York, Afghanistan and Iraq. A regular contributor to Time, New York, and Metropolis magazines, he has been affiliated with Contact Press Images since 2001. He is based in New York City.
James Hill was born in 1967 in London, England. After attending Oxford and the London College of Printing, he took up photography and in 1991 set off for the Soviet Union where he worked for over ten years, first in Kiev, then from 1995 on based in Moscow as a contract photographer for The New York Times. His body of work from the conflict in Afghanistan, where he spent three months in 2001, earned him the Pulitzer Prize. In 2003 he reported on the war in Iraq for The New York Times and Time. A web journal of his weeks with US troops, "In the Heart of the Fight", was awarded the NPPA award for best news picture story on the web. In 2005 his images from the Beslan tragedy won First Prize in General News Stories at World Press Photo and the award for Feature Photography from the Overseas Press Club of America. He continues to work on contract for The New York Times and with many major US and European news magazines. He is based in Moscow.
Kenneth Jarecke was born in 1963 in Fairfax, Missouri, USA. After joining Contact Press Images in 1986, he earned a reputation as a maverick photographer with images from the political scene since the Ronald Reagan administration, student demonstrations in China's Tienanmen Square (1989), and his searing book of black and white 'personal' images from the first Gulf conflict, Just Another War (Bedrock Press 1992). In 1989 he became a contract photographer for U.S. News & World Report, and has since produced stories on AIDS in Africa, turmoil in Afghanistan, famine in Ethiopia, and numerous features in America. He is based in Montana, USA.
Edward Keating was born in 1956 in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. Self-taught, he began his career as a working photojournalist in New York in the late seventies. A staff photographer for The New York Times from 1991-2002, he shared in the Pulitzer Prize the newspaper received for their coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He is also known for his unconventional photographs of weddings in America. He joined Contact in 2004, and has since been engaged in a soon-to-be-published long-term project on the famed US transnational highway, Route 66. He is based in New York City.
Dilip Mehta was born in 1952 in New Delhi, India and joined Contact Press Images in 1977. He won international acclaim for his coverage of the Gandhi family and his five-year reporting on the 1984 Bhopal tragedy, the worst chemical disaster in history. He has since produced extensive work from the USA, Russia, China, South Asia, and his native India. He is a regular contributor to the National Geographic and GEO, and in recent years has documented the effects of widespread modernization on Asian society. He is based in New Delhi.
Alon Reininger was born in 1947 in Tel Aviv, Israel and began his career covering the 1973 Yom Kippur War for UPI. One of the original members of Contact Press Images in 1976, he has followed the unrest and change in southern Africa and the Middle East (1976-80), in Central America (1979-83), and in China (1985-89). Perhaps best known for his pioneering work on AIDS, which he began in 1980 when the disease was still largely unknown, he has received numerous honors including the World Press Photo Premier Award in 1986, the UN World Health Organization "All for Health, Health for All" award in 1987, and the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award in 1990 for Impact in Photojournalism. Working out of California during the nineties he focussed primarily on social issues in the US, particularly those concerning disparities of race and gender, such as immigration, crime and education. He is based in Los Angeles.