[...] I am not trying to convey messages. I take photographs to affirm reality, not explain reality and that reality often has a high level of ambiguity to it, which is subject to interpretation. So what one viewer discovers in a given image may be very different from what another viewer discovers. This particular photograph seems to suggest to you something about corporate culture, but another viewer might simply be amused by the similarity of be-suited figures and another viewer might find something else. I believe in photographs that have a level of ambiguity, images that work on suggestion, that ask questions rather than provide answers.
Back in the spring of 1980, Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson began to photograph the subway system in NYC for his project titled Subway. NYRBlog has published an interesting essay — an excerpt from the introduction of Davidson’s book — in which the photographer talks about his experience:
To prepare myself for the subway, I started a crash diet, a military fitness exercise program, and early every morning I jogged in the park. I knew I would need to train like an athlete to be physically able to carry my heavy camera equipment around in the subway for hours every day. Also, I thought that if anything was going to happen to me down there I wanted to be in good shape, or at least to believe that I was. Each morning I carefully packed my cameras, lenses, strobe light, filters, and accessories in a small, canvas camera bag. In my green safari jacket with its large pockets, I placed my police and subway passes, a few rolls of film, a subway map, a notebook, and a small, white, gold-trimmed wedding album containing pictures of people I’d already photographed in the subway. In my pants pocket I carried quarters for the people in the subway asking for money, change for the phone, and several tokens. I also carried a key case with additional identification and a few dollars tucked inside, a whistle, and a small Swiss Army knife that gave me a little added confidence. I had a clean handkerchief and a few Band-Aids in case I found myself bleeding.
It’s an interesting glimpse into the mind of a photographer who takes his work very seriously.
The exhibition has transformed the white walls of the Magnum Gallery into an upmarket video games console store. Several portable games consoles sit on flashy plastic Nintendo-branded pedestals. Peer closely at each console and you’ll see a slideshow of a few eerie 3D images of each photographer’s ‘perception’ of everyday life. (‘Perception’ because it could be too strong a word to use to describe the result.) The lack of a guiding artistic thread puts the spotlight on the tool rather than the work. The images are nothing to write home about and disappointingly so, especially from Magnum Photos’ best.
The video above shows Parr shooting with the 3DS and referring to it as a “camera in disguise.” Hmmm… That’s nice, but please go back to shooting with Leicas now.
Is it your dream to become a professional photographer? Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson says you should focus more on the word “photographer” than the word “professional”:
Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Don’t be in a rush to pay your rent with your camera. Jimi Hendrix didn’t decide on the career of professional musician before he learned to play guitar. No, he loved music and created something beautiful and that THEN became a profession. Larry Towell, for instance, was not a “professional” photographer until he was already a “famous” photographer. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make sh*tty pictures that you don’t care about.
IdeasTap has a great two-part series in which Magnum members offer advice for young photographers looking to get into the game. Definitely worth a read.
Want to play role in the legendary agency Magnum Photos? Well, now you can as a “Magnum Tagger”. The cooperative is having a tough time keeping their large archive of historical photographs organized and easily searchable. Of the 500,000 images they’ve uploaded to the web, about 200,000 have little or no associated metadata. Magnum has decided to tackle this problem by crowdsourcing it, asking for volunteers to sift through the photographs and add useful information. For the trial run they’re looking for 50 volunteers, which shouldn’t be hard to find given the hundreds of thousands of followers they have on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
How do a group of the world’s premier photographers shoot a group portrait? Well, just like the rest of us! This short one minute video shows photographer René Burri — who made iconic photos of Che Guevara and Pablo Picasso — shooting the group portrait at the end of this year’s meeting between Magnum Photo members (something he’s done for 30 years).
Kudos to anyone who can identify the camera Burri used and the people in the group photo shown at the end.
Back in February 2011, Leica Camera and Magnum Photos announced a partnership that will spawn a series of multimedia essays created by Magnum photojournalists with Leica equipment. They also created this inspirational video telling the story of how many of history’s iconic photographs were captured by Magnum photographers using Leica gear.
Newspapers are fading. News media is in a limbo of redefinition. Now we can add photojournalism to that list of defunct media, said Neil Burgess, head of London-based photo agency NB Pictures. Burgess is also the former head of Network Photographers and Magnum Photos, and twice Chairman of World Press Photo, and has spent much of his life working on social documentary photography and 25 years as a photojournalist.
This fascinating video shows how Magnum photographer Bruce Gilden does his street photography in New York City. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of person it takes to capture closeup shots of people in a place like NYC, this video may be very interesting to you. He’s the complete opposite of someone who stands on the other side of the street, using a telephoto to “get close”.
We reported at the beginning of last month that photography co-op Magnum had sold nearly 200,000 prints to billionaire Michael Dell’s MSD Capital. Now, new details are emerging as to exactly what they plan to do with the money and with their future direction.
Magnum managing director Mark Lubell recently told ArtInfo.com that he developed a three year turnaround business plan to move the co-op away from traditional revenue streams – a plan that was approved with a unanimous vote by Magnum’s members and estates. The plan involved not only embracing new media, but returning to their photojournalistic roots:
Although he declined to go in to detail about how the company plans to use the proceeds from the sale of its archive, Lubell says that some money will go toward a Web initiative that will give photographers a platform to distribute content. Funds will also be devoted to helping photographers reach field destinations for stories and see them through long-term — the kind of journalism that was once Magnum’s bread and butter. For instance, photographers will be sent to Haiti over the next 12 to 18 months to document the nation’s effort to rebuild. After the initial tragedy subsides, “everyone leaves,” Lubell says, and because the aftermath isn’t headline news, coverage of continuing crises typically aren’t “funded in traditional media circles.”
In an age where everyone is suddenly a “photographer”, it’ll be nice to see Magnum going places and documenting things that amateurs and traditional media neglect.