New Members for Magnum

You can’t back much closer to the centre of photography (or at least of photojournalism) than Magnum, the co-operative agency founded by some of the legends of the mid-twentieth century – Robert Capa, Cartier-Bresson and the others – to stand up for the rights of photographers and still going strong – certainly the best known agency across the world.

Magnum has an annual business meeting, held in either Paris, London or New York. Last week’s was in Paris and three photographers Jonas Bendiksen, Antoine DÂ’Agata and Alec Soth, who all came to Magnum in 2004, were made full members.

There were two new nominees:

Olivia Arthur , who took an Oxford maths degree and was Guardian Student Photographer of the Year in 2001 before going on to take the Diploma in photojournalism at the London College of Printing (and has since gone on to gain several awards including Magnum’s own Inga Morath Award in 2007 .)

Peter Van Agtmael who graduated from Yale with a History degree in 2003 and immediately started a very succesful career as a photographer by going to work in China for a year.

I’ve often been asked whether you need to go to college and take a course in photography to become a photographer. My answer has always been that many of the best photographers have always studied other subjects at college – although some may also study photography. Of course there are also good photographers with first (and higher) degrees in the subject.

Magnum has full members, associates and nominees. A year ago, Alec Soth some informative pieces about Magnum and the process of becoming a member from an insider view hat are still available on line, though as often is the case you need to read the comments to some of the pieces.

In time we will probably find something about the new nominees on the Magnum blog in due course. In 2007 Martin Fuchs posted a short conversation with that year’s new nominees, Alessandra Sanguinetti from Argentina, Jacob Aue Sobol from Denmark and Mikhael Subotzky from South Africa, and there is also a short Magnum essay where Mark Power and Peter Marlow give an insight into the process by which they were chosen.

4 Responses to “New Members for Magnum”

  1. ChrisL says:

    Whilst I can have no quibble about the quality of the new members nor of the nominees I do wonder if the rate at which Magnum is taking on new members is not in danger of reducing the perception of the franchise as being the pinnacle. The creme de la creme is approaching being just another agency by over inclusivity.

  2. I think it’s important to remember it is a co-operative rather than a franchise.

    My feeling would be that photographic standards are higher than they were say 10 years ago or earlier (and there have been some not very exciting Magnum members in the past.)

    Of course there have over the years been huge debates inside and outside Magnum about the direction in which it should be going, though these are perhaps less now.

    But the real problem for them and other agencies is the direction the market is going in.


  3. ChrisL says:

    Perhaps brand would have been a better word than franchise. It was meant in that context not the pure business model.

    Can I draw your attention to this blog entry which makes very uncomfortable viewing but gives a view on the protests sill going on here ?

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