Francois Hebel, the director of Recontres d'Arles Photography Festival, first ran the festival in 1986 and 1987, and returned to it in 2001.  In the interim, for twelve years he led the prestigious Magnum Photos agency, whose members are among the most celebrated photographers the world over. Before returning to Recontres d'Arles Photography Festival, for two years he managed the European activities of Corbis Press Agency at the behest of computer and business magnate Bill Gates.
Francois Hebel stayed at the JCVA in January 2004. During his stay, he met with some 30 Israeli photographers, most of them in their studios, and saw several photography exhibitions in central cultural venues. His openness, insight and professional expertise were greatly appreciated by the photographers he spoke with, and were especially beneficial to several young Israeli photographers whose work he explored with interest. This was Hebel’s first full exposure to Israeli photography. He was thrilled and impressed with the quality and energy of the work he saw, and suggested that Israeli photography must receive greater international representation than it has so far.