Magnum Photography has something in its core…

Wikipedia : “Magnum Photos is an international photographic cooperative owned by its photographer-members, with offices in New York City, Paris, London and Tokyo”.


I’ve been given a huge book about Magnum this Christmas, and the preface tells something I’d like to share with you :

Magnum is driven by a tension, a conviction : it is a space where the opposites can cohabit.

From the beginning, two of the founding members were like deciding it. Capa almost invented the modern photo journalism and was a war photographer, and Cartier-Bresson was considered a master of “candid photography”.

A candid photograph is a photograph captured without creating a posed appearance. This is achieved in many ways, for example:

  • when the subject is in motion,
  • by avoiding prior preparation of the subject,
  • by surprising the subject,
  • by not distracting the subject during the process of taking photos.


This opposition between the documentary and something more artistic is the core of Magnum.

And therefore, other oppositions have been fertilizing the agency :

  • Photos on command or more personal works.
  • European culture vs American management.
  • Individual work, or team work.
  • Fragility of the photographer outside, but/and being part of the elite of photography.


There’s no need to go further. We have here a pattern, like a “map for the mind” to organize, build and watch a team. I like it because it integrates opposites, instead of inventing useless rules, frontiers, and take away a part of something.

Where to apply that? Could it be useful? How to think about it?

MORE : what else could we build ON contradictions and opposites? How can it be a source of energy? 


It’s 10 PM the 31the December. Last article of the year!


Thanks for reading!



Photo : Marc Riboud




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