PHILADELPHIA, 2013. A drone’s-eye view of people exercising in the city center. As an unnamed senior U.S. government official said to the New York Times in May 2012, “three guys doing jumping jacks” might for the CIA constitute sufficient evidence of a terrorist training camp — an allusion to policies whereby unidentified persons overseas who exhibit so-called signature behaviors are targeted in “signature strikes.” (Photo: Tomas Van Houtryve)

Tomas Van Houtryve

“Many of my projects start with a nagging curiosity about a subject, and occasionally I am seized by an obsession to understand, document and reveal that subject.”


The longest-term impact that the workshop had on me came from the relationships I formed there. There are several fellow photographers I'm still in touch with--sixteen years later. So I guess I'd tell my younger self to be determined and proactive about whom you meet. Those relationships can span a career.


Tomas van Houtryve is an artist, photographer, author who engages critical contemporary issues around the world and is a member of VII. In 2002, he was the first photographer to cover the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Van Houtryve traveled to Nepal in 2004 to document the Maoist rebellion and the overthrow of the monarchy. The resulting photos earned wide recognition, including the Visa pour L’Image-Perpignan Young Photographer Award and the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents. His first monograph book, “Behind the Curtains of 21st Century Communism,” was published in Spring 2012. The seven-year project documents life in the last countries where the Communist Party remains in power: North Korea, Cuba, China, Nepal, Vietnam and Laos. The series won the 2012 Pictures of the Year International World Understanding Award. In 2013 Tomas began working on Blue Sky Days, a drone’s-eye view of America. Images from the project were first published in Harper’s as the largest photo portfolio in the magazine’s 164-year history. The series was awarded the 2015 ICP Infinity Award and honors from POYi, World Press Photo, the Photographic Museum of Humanity and the White House News Photographer’s Association.