VII Photo AgencyThe Leaders in Journalism program is an opportunity to learn about some of the most important stories in the world from top journalists who cover them.  The Lecture, always free and open to the public, is an opportunity for writers and photographers to share insights from a recent project.  The Family-style Dinner is chance to dive deeper into the stories behind the stories. We have partnered with the VII Association to bring some of the world’s preeminent photographers from VII Photo Agency to Telluride.

Writer Peter Hessler

Learning to Speak Lingerie:  Chinese Entrepreneurs in Egypt and the Chinese Worldview

Increasingly, China’s policies affect the rest of the world, especially Africa, where there are currently more than a million Chinese.  Over a period of three years, Peter Hessler got to know Chinese entrepreneurs, government officials, and workers in Egypt.  His research spanned a region that stretched from remote parts of Upper Egypt, where independent Chinese merchants sell lingerie, to the Suez Canal, where state-owned companies are trying to build a Chinese-style factory zone.  Hessler came away with a new understanding of China’s foreign policy successes and failures, as well as the perspectives of ordinary citizens.

July 22nd

Leaders in Journalism Lecture, 6pm, Sherbino Theater, Ridgway, FREE
Family-Style Dinner Fundraiser, 7:30pm, SwiftTurn Studios, Ridgway, $50 – Reserve Seats

Peter Hessler first went to live in China in 1996, as a Peace Corps volunteer.  After teaching for two years in Fuling, a small city on the Yangtze River, he wrote his first book, River Town.  He moved to Beijing in 1999, and the following year he became a staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine.  He is also a contributing writer for National Geographic Magazine.  He lived in China until 2007, writing a trilogy of nonfiction books that includes Oracle Bones and Country Driving.

In 2011, Hessler and his wife, Leslie T. Chang, moved with their twin daughters to Cairo, Egypt.  They lived there for five years, studying Arabic and writing.  In Egypt, Hessler reported for the New Yorker on subjects that ranged from the Arab Spring to archaeology to Chinese merchants in remote parts of Upper Egypt.  He is currently writing a book about his experiences in the country, The Buried:  An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution.  In 2013, Hessler published a collection of his New Yorker pieces, entitled, Strange Stones:  Dispatches from East and West.

Hessler and Chang moved to Ridgway in 2007, and they returned for summers during their years in Egypt.  They moved back full-time in 2016, and their daughters recently finished the second grade at Ridgway Elementary.  They share their home with a full-blooded Egyptian mau named Morsi.  If Morsi has any regrets about trading the Nile for the Uncompahgre, he keeps them to himself.


Past Journalists

Photographer Maciek Nabrdalik

Maciek Nabrdalik will be joining us from Poland in order to share his groundbreaking work from the front lines of the refugee crisis in Europe. As wars rage in Syria and Iraq, and simmer in Ukraine and Libya, and with drought rocking Sub-Saharan Africa, there are more refugees on the move now than at any time in history, with many flooding into Europe by land and sea. Nabrdalik begins his story on the Greek island of Lesbos where, he writes, “They first appear as small, undefinable spots on the horizon. Nobody knows exactly when and where they will appear — but what IS certain is that they keep coming. Several dozen times a day.” Then, the story flows through the port of Athens and the borders of Serbia and Croatia.

Maciek Nabrdalik is a graduate of Warsaw University of Technology. He gave up Computer Science for his greatest passion, photography, which he took up professionally in 2001. Nabrdalik began working in the U.S., shooting for local newspapers, and worked as an assistant at photo shoots for world-acclaimed fashion magazines.

In 2008, he joined the VII Mentor Program, between 2010-2011 he was a part of VII Network and since 2011 he is a member of VII Photo.

Although Nabrdalik often works in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, his main concentration is on sociological changes in Eastern Europe. Nabrdalik is based in Warsaw, Poland and his stories have been published by Smithsonian Magazine, L’Espresso, Newsweek, Polityka and The Wall Street Journal among others.  In 2012 he was awarded with a grant from Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to continue his project on Nazi camps survivors worldwide.  That same year, Nabrdalik won the 2012 edition of the Pierre & Alexandra Boulat Grant to produce the work called Econimic Migrations.

Photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier

Photographer and filmmaker Danny Wilcox Frazier focuses his work on marginalized communities across the United States. Frazier has photographed people struggling to survive the economic shift that has devastated rural communities throughout America, including in his home state of Iowa. His work acknowledges isolation and neglect while also celebrating perseverance and strength.

Frazier’s assignment work includes: Harper’s, The New Yorker, National Geographic, The Atlantic, TIME, GEO (Germany), GQ (UK), Mother Jones, LIFE, The Sunday Times Magazine (London), Newsweek, Fortune, BusinessWeek, and Der Spiegel. In print features on his photographs and films include: Hungry Eye Magazine (UK), The New York Times (USA), photo-eye (USA), Photo Raw (Finland), LFI (Germany), RearViewMirror Magazine (Italy), Photo District News (USA), B&W Magazine (UK), TAKE photography magazine (Australia), Duke magazine (USA), the trip (Italy), and Virginia Quarterly Review (USA).

Frazier is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships for foreign and domestic projects including: Emerging Photographer Fund finalist (2012), Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize finalist, Center for Documentary Studies (2010), The Aftermath Project (2009), Humanities Iowa, an affiliate of the NEH (2009), W. Eugene Smith Grant finalist (2007 and 2008), and the Stanley Fellowship for Graduate Research Abroad (2003). His photographs are in public and private collections, including: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, Duke University’s special collections library, Honickman Foundation, and Smithsonian, National Museum of American History.

Writer Robert Baer


Robert Baer is a former CIA field agent who has since become one of America’s preeminent foreign policy experts on the Middle East.  He has written several award winning books, including See No Evil which was the basis for the film Syriana.  Baer is a consistent voice on CNN and a contributor to Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.



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