Monthly Archive for June, 2012

Free beer, no sorry, free portfolio reviews…

It is past midnight.. It is late and it smells late..I leave for France in the afternoon tomorrow…I have not packed, nor have I ever learned to pack for any trip in all these years. Always get it wrong. Working on it. I am headed for four days of Magnum meeting followed by four days of Les Rencontres d’Arles arguably one of the most important international photography assemblages. After days of biz meeting with Magnum I am sure many would cut both ears off instead of one as did VanGogh in this fair charming south of France town.

Yet I always go. Never missed an annual gathering of the tribe since 1993 when I became a Magnum nominee and forever changed my life. I have already been to two photo fests this spring, am burned out on the social scene, and would not go to one now were Magnum not meeting on this 65th year in this historic Arles. The vibes in Arles buzz in way as in no other place.

My little book from 1967, Tell It Like It Is,  gets its two minutes of fame along with 10 other Magnum photographers who are participating on a presentation called “First Time”. Addressing the evening audience on July 3 with their first work, their first important work. The work that took them forward. For me this is bracketed with my recent Rio novella (based on a true story) entering the prestigious Library Actes Sud and a book signing at Les Rencontres. So my “first time” and my most recent. All the while surrounded by terrific exhibitions and evening presentations.

Burn will also have a stand where we will do free (buy me a beer) portfolio reviews. “We” being the entire Burn staff: Anton Kusters, Diego Orlando, Eva-Maria Kunz, Candy Pilar Godoy and Claudia Paladini. I do not think we have EVER had all of us together in one place. We work by remote control. By Skype. By text message (should be illegal) and by brain debilitating email. Fate has brought us all together. We are electric. On fire. BurnMagazine, BurnBooks, and BurnUniversity are all happening. Details on all will follow after the Burn gang meets after the Magnum meeting.

It all blends anyway. Magnum’s new website may unleash a whole new Magnum. For sure exciting times. Times to reinvent, times to invent, times to push push the proverbial envelope just as far as we can without losing the thing Magnum members care about the most. A place in history. A seat at the table. Burn seeks to help find new talent and celebrate the icons who may be a beacon for those forging ahead with oftentimes a wrinkled map.

If you are anywhere near the south of France June 3-8 please stop by. If you are on the other side of the world and have a lot of miles to cash in, now is the time. Everyone in this Burn audience knows well they have input in what goes on around here. Either with their voice or their pictures. Burn eliminates a lot of excuses. If you have something to say, you can say it right here and you are reaching an impressive cross section of our craft. Both the photographers and the editors and a lot of well versed serious photographer who choose photography as an avocation, rather than as a business.

I only write tonight and rambled this long to avoid the inevitable packing I must do. So let me get to it. Wishing all of you a pleasant morning/evening and ask you to stay tuned as I report from Arles in the week upcoming to flow alongside our EPF finalists.

-dah-

 

Williston, North Dakota, from the Magnum project Looking For America, May 2012

 

Laia Abril – II Chapter on Eating Disorders ‘Thinspiration’

Laia Abril

Thinspiration

[ EPF 2012 FINALIST ]

ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

The Pro Ana community has turned anorexia (Ana) into its dogma. This illness has even been embodied by the members of this group; they venerate it as the one giving meaning to their totalitarian ‘life style’. It’s a virtual reality where they state their commandments, share motivating tricks and exchange hundreds of images of thin models via their blogs. They have created ‘thinspiration’, a new visual language – obsessively consumed to keep on wrestling with the scales day after day.

Looking at their delusions in greater detail, I find out a new symptom in their behavior. Interacting with their own cameras in a competition in which they portray their achievements in the form of bony clavicles or flat bellies, the pro Ana have made thinspiration evolve.

I decide to look for the answer by re-taking their self-portraits with the intention of establishing a conversation between their camera and mine. I shut myself up in a dark room as if it were a model session, placing my tripod in front of the computer in such a way that, when you look through the lens, it’s only me and them. I photograph them in their rooms, in their bathrooms. They pose provocatively, narcissistically.

 

 

Pro-anorexis consume in a wicked game between admiration and repulsion: the pro-bones, where the protagonists are anorexic and are at an extreme stage of the illness. The images that I took from then on disassociate themselves from the character to turn into abstract body landscapes at the gates of the abyss. They are the visual response to the bond between obsession and self-destruction; the disappearance of one’s own identity.

‘Thinspiration’ is the second chapter of a long-term project about Eating Disorders I started almost two years ago. Furthermore it is an introspective journey, based in my personal experience, through the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of auto-destruction, denouncing new risk factors within the disease: the social networks and photography.

 

 

Bio

Laia Abril (Barcelona, 1986) is a documentary photographer and journalist.
Her work has been exhibited and appraised in Italy, Spain, Bosnia, Germany, London and New York on events like NY FotoFestival or the 3rd Lumix Festival. Her editorial work has been published in different international magazines such as D Repubblica, The Sunday Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, FT Magazine or COLORS Magazine, where she has been a member of the editorial staff since 2009, when she enrolled at the Fabrica artists residency – the Benetton research centre in Italy.

In 2010 she joined the agency Reportage by Getty as an emerging talent after being finalist at the Ian Parry Award in 2009/10. Most recently she was selected for the Plat(t)form Winterthur FotoMuseum and nominated at the Joop Swart Masterclass.

She is currently working as a staff photographer, blogger and Associate Picture Editor for COLORS combining her freelance career and keeping developing her personal project.

 

Giovanni Cocco – Monia

Giovanni Cocco

Monia

[ EPF 2012 RUNNER UP ]

This work is an ongoing project; it started five years ago, in silence. The photographs came first, before any other project, and before the story, which they belong to. They are the result of an experience and the desire to tell it.

Monia is my sister. She is disabled since birth, where she has probably suffered a traumatic brain injury. She lives with our parents in a small town in Abruzzo. My mother takes care of her every day, every hour, always, giving her security and serenity. My family lives in habits, simple gestures and long moments without words or actions. A world away from everything else, solitary, confined, but not empty, where time is made up of moments, a present that does not need to project into the future.

 

Photographing Monia is an act of knowledge and research. It is a way to understand her, wondering what she thinks and what she wants. From life, from me. Soon it won’t just be the approach through photography, which will bring me to her, to remember the gestures and glances with which she seems to touch and see the world. One day she will be part of my life, she will have to deal with me, every day, with the way I see her and love her. Telling her story and her life is the first step for one to enter the life of the other, with both the joy and the difficulty of the encounter.

With the assistance of the Emerging Photographer Fund I would have more time to spend with her. Time to tell better this story. In the end there will be a book and an exhibition.

 

 

Bio

Giovanni Cocco was born in Sulmona, Italy, in 1973. After years of photographing his native region, Abruzzo, from an anthropological perspective, the Italian photographer turned his lens to social and environmental reportage, alternating between dripping color and dreamlike tableaux in black and white. For over 5 years he has been working on a long term social project documenting the life of his sister and family. Now his work focuses on migrants in Europe. His work has been published in leading international news magazines. In 2010, he takes part of the VII Mentor Program.

 

Simona Ghizzoni – Afterdark: Consequences of War on Women in the Gaza Strip

Simona Ghizzoni

Afterdark: Consequences of War on Women in the Gaza Strip

[ EPF 2012 RUNNER UP ]

ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

I reached the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the first time in 2010, on assignement with a friend journalist, to document the condition of palestinian women in the Gaza Strip. At that time, we had the access to the Gaza Strip denied by the Israeli Government. To me it was a big surprise, so I decided to spend a couple of months in Jerusalem and the West Bank in order to see and understand more of the social and political situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories. That was the beginning of my long-term project about the consequences of war on women’s lives, Afterdark.

 

 

A few months later I got the permission to enter the Gaza Strip, where I stayed as a whole around three months, documenting the aftermath of Cast Lead Operation (ended in 2009) and the life of women in the extremely complex contest of the Strip.
Women in Gaza suffer of a double pressure: the isolation from the outside world imposed by Israeli blockade, with all the economical, physical and psychological consequences, and, on the other hand, the worsening of  women’s human rights conditions under Hamas government, heading towards an effective gender separation.
Through the stories of the women I met, I am trying to understand what actually happens when a military operation is declared a success, how is the return to normality of life, and which normality can be actually restored, in order to avoid to forget the real human toll of any war.
The funding of this project would help me return to the Gaza Strip on a regular basis for the next year, since I’m planning to follow up with the stories of five of the women I met on my first trip, all of them suffering both physically and psychologically from the traumas they experienced during the war. It would also allow me to start the production of a short documentary about their everyday lives in Gaza, related to the development of the social and political situation in the Strip.

 

 

Bio

Simona Ghizzoni was born in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 1977.
She studied with Giorgia Fiorio in  Reflexions Masterclass and attended the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass.
In 2006  she tied for first prize at the FNAC photo contest, with the work “Scars”, an essay on Sarajevo ten years after the end of the war.
From 2006 to 2010 she worked on the project “Odd Days”, about Eating Disoders.
Awarded with  the 3rd  prize single portrait at World Press Photo 2008 and PHotoEspaña Ojodepez Award for Human Values in 2009.
Since 2010 she began a long term project about the consequences of war on women’s lives, working on  Iraqi refugees in Jordan, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in Western Sahara, thanks to The Aftermath Project.
With the project “Afterdark”, about the condition of female victims of Cast Lead operation in the Gaza Strip, she was awarded with the 3rd  prize Contemporary Isssues at World Press Photo 2012.

 

jessica lutz – get your cowgirl on

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

 

Jessica Lutz

Get Your Cowgirl On

play this essay

 

I am not a songwriter or a singer, nor was I planning to spend several months in the desert of West Texas, and yet I did all of those things. This place is a vortex pulling some into its eye while abruptly casting out others. Beautiful yet unforgiving, surviving the raw land on the Rio Grande requires a certain breed of character. A band of musicians moonlighting as mechanics, stone masons, welders and farmers took me under their wing. Through the lens I saw flashes of wild in each soul, and what impressed me most, beyond a willingness to give a brother or sister a hand, was their irreverent spirit. Badass is the currency in which they trade. I did not curate this video for effect, rather, it documents our escapades and pays homage to the rabble rousers who inspired me to step up and get my cowgirl on.

 

Bio

After a decade living in New York City employed by National Geographic’s Global Media Division, and inspired by the community of photographers with whom she worked, Jessica Lutz is now herself a freelance photographer exploring her wild side and documenting the sub cultures she encounters.

 

Related links

Jessica Lutz

 

Matt Lutton – ‘Only Unity’: Serbia in the Aftermath of Yugoslavia and Milosevic

Matt Lutton

Only Unity: Serbia in the Aftermath of Yugoslavia and Milosevic

[ EPF 2012 RECIPIENT ]

“Only Unity” has emerged from five years of living and working in the Balkans; it is my personal response to the confounding atmosphere of the region. My project presents a psychological portrait of Serbs from across the Balkans as they confront a radically changed landscape within physically contracting borders. Serbia is emerging from the hangover of the 1990s, where atrocities were carried out in their name just across newborn borders, and constructive reflection about the consequences of those years is long over due.

I am photographing details of society that both reflect and undermine the popular Serbian creation myths. Many issues are rooted in the complicated phrase “Only Unity Saves the Serbs” which was popular in the narrative of mass political manipulation during the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the wars that took place in its vacuum. Serbia is still recovering from the post-traumatic stress of those years, leading to a national confusion about their identity and a productive path forward.

There are many elements that contribute to a hostile and sometimes desperate atmosphere in Serbia today. But there too are moments that show healing and a glimpse at a different future than many have seen for themselves in the last decade. The growing pains of this nascent democracy must continue to be carefully documented and explored, as the battles of the 1990s have yet to be finally played out. I’ve experienced alarming apathy and lack of compassion from many youth across the Balkans, and I hope to confront them directly with a different picture of the countries and history they will inherit. I hope my pictures will help bridge local borders, real and imagined.

 

 

Bio

Matt Lutton (b. 1984) is an American photographer who has been living in Belgrade, Serbia, since 2009. He was raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies and Comparative History of Ideas. He is the co-founder of the online photojournalism website Dvafoto, which began in 2005. His project “Homeless in Seattle” was awarded a grant by the Alexia Foundation for World Peace in 2007 and was exhibited at the Seattle City Hall in July 2008. The Anthropographia Award for Human Rights and Photography selected his project “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” about the destruction and relocation of the Roma community living in Belgrade, Serbia, for their 2010 traveling exhibition. His current project about the Serbian emergence from the Milosevic decade and its role in post-war Balkans is titled “Only Unity” and was nominated for the POYi Emerging Vision Incentive in 2010.

 

EPF 2012 – the winners


 
 

Susan Meiselas – Interview

Susan Meiselas

Interview with Susan

 

David Alan Harvey: Young photographers are looking towards us to help them find the way. We are struggling with that, but you’ve evolved from a photo journalist at a very early age, and now you’ve become a curator and you’ve been leading the Magnum Foundation. So, I am sure you don’t think you’ve got all the answers, but how do you see the Magnum Foundation and the role that it can play in helping to shape young peoples aspirations?

Susan Meiselas: I think, if we go back to why we started the Foundation (and it was many years of thinking) we were anticipating the crisis that we now are experiencing. I think there were a lot of signs that there was going to be a shift that photographers such as ourselves, people working for the most part in long form and the documentary tradition, would face. We saw that we would no longer have partners for production which were needed to do the kind of work we are still committed to doing. Whether it was the National Geographic (as in your case) or a variety of news magazines, when you were out in the world covering events that were unfolding over time, let’s say — witnessing, observing, following — and trying to make sense of history-making of various kinds… your ability to do so was sustained either through assignment partners or the possibility of reproduction later. So, you invested your time with the belief that there would be a vehicle, and those partners were very strong and essential support.

The founders of Magnum were smart about figuring out very early how to create a network of sub agents so that there was an international framework of exposure and distribution for the work they created. That was a huge gift that our generation inherited from those who invented it, in particular at Magnum, but other agencies formed similar networks over the last decades as well. That international reproduction machine for “second sales” made it possible to work over longer periods of time, with multiple channels of financing beyond the original assignment.

So, how does a Foundation fit in now? First of all, it’s just as important to document the world. That has not changed. And you have an easier means of distribution now with the internet, so the question is how do you generate funds to produce, especially if you can’t easily monetize through the resale of your work, for the most part, or one does with greater difficulty..

DAH: You need sponsors.

SM: You need people who believe that it is still important to see what is going on in the world at whatever level that means. You know, I never thought about it in terms of ‘news’. What we used to do very well was anticipate. I mean, that’s really important to think about. We had to anticipate, because it took weeks or months for publications to prepare to go to print. In fact, even that’s part of the reason I personally never worked for National Geographic. For me, the difficulty of Geographic was that the anticipation cycle was so long. So if I was working on a timely subject, I wanted to see the publication in relation to the production in a closer cycle. And Geographic was so extended; it might be six months or a year after you did the work that you would see it in print. So it didn’t seem optimal or advantageous for the kind of work I was doing at that time. It was a more reflective space lets say.

Now, that’s a very valuable space; to have the opportunity to be more reflective and not have to be as immediate which is what this new medium has created and now demands in some ways. This intensity that we have to produce and deliver and disseminate instantaneously — so that there is no time for reflection. The MF’s Magnum Emergency Fund is trying to create a margin in which photographers can still have a degree of independence to reflect and create work.

DAH: How many photographers have you supported through the Emergency Fund?

SM: Well, the important thing to understand is that it is a nomination process, not an open solicitation. We’d be swamped and overwhelmed and we don’t have the staff. Each year we choose ten international nominators — picture editors, curators, publishers — who propose up to ten photographers each, so we have a pool of potential projects from 100 candidates.

DAH: Are they Magnum members?

SM: One of the nominators each year has been a Magnum Board member and sometimes we have had Magnum members as candidates for support.

DAH: So ten percent of the nominators are Magnum, ninety percent are not.

SM: Yes, but in fact that’s not fixed. It happened the first year, because one of the invited nominators bailed out.

DAH: Yeah, I am just trying to get people the idea that you’re a Magnum member, it’s a Magnum Foundation, but in fact I think the point that’s interesting about the Foundation is that obviously it’s supposed to help Magnum photographers to some degree but you’re supporting a lot of non Magnum photographers as well.

SM: I don’t think we do think of the MF as support for Magnum photographers. I think we think of supporting photographers who share a set of values that Magnum is founded on, but they’re not the only photographers who have these traditions now. But there is a tradition we still stand for.

DAH: Oh yeah, there is certainly a Magnum philosophy.

SM: And there is a sense of values that we want to sustain, and it’s really important because with our principle funder this was a very critical discussion. Could Magnum photographers be or not be nominated? There is no reason why they should be penalized because they are with Magnum, IF they are nominated. So in the first year I think there were twelve projects supported, 3 were Magnum photographers; the second year there were eleven and only one Magnum photographer. This year we have supported 8 photographers and none from Magnum. We have given travel grants to photographers from NOOR, VII, VU’, Getty and about one third of our funds have gone to regional photographers based in India, Bangladesh, China, Kenya, among others. In total 30 photographers so far and about $350,000 all together, with grants ranging between $5,000 and $12,500.

DAH: So how many years is this?

SM: We have now given out three years of Emergency Fund support. During the nomination process every photographer is invited to submit a portfolio and a proposal, and then there is an editorial board that is not from Magnum at all. Three independents, not on the Magnum Board of the Foundation, not within the photography circle, and that’s the editorial board that really makes the decisions to distribute whatever funds we have raised. We’ve given out about $125,000 each year. I actually hoped to double that, but we have not succeeded yet. And I think it could be tough to sustain it. It shouldn’t be, but we haven’t yet been able to find the significant partners or patrons that we need to be able to double the funds. We are trying to come up with various strategies to build interest and partnerships within the media now.

DAH: But isn’t that what we’re trying to think about? Think about ways to make the Magnum Foundation viable in terms of actually taking production and somehow getting it out there?

SM: Yes, but I think what we’re doing is clearly supporting many photographers who haven’t actually worked within the media the way maybe our generation has. And that takes a lot more mentoring than just giving people funds to help create stories to distribute. We’re giving more than just money, in many cases we’re giving them the narrative and editorial support they need, and then finding partners who will publish their work. The MF does not benefit from the publication of the work financially, the photographer does completely, along with their agencies, if they have them in place. But that’s a big piece of work. A huge piece of work that we didn’t really anticipate we would need to do. We didn’t imagine it would be very difficult to find the media to reproduce work that they haven’t had to pay to produce. So we keep on working to find more media partners, such as Time Lightbox, we’re talking to Harpers and the New Yorker… already we’ve seen a lot of publication of the work we’ve supported, so that’s very positive. We also just created a long term partnership with Mother Jones who will feature EF work online bi-monthly.

DAH: You just need more of it.

SM: You need more of it. And I think we have to find more strategic partners who believe in the importance of keeping eyes on the world. I mean that’s the work on my shoulders principally.

DAH: It’s an incredible amount of the work. That’s kind of what I wanted to get at with this.

SM: The point is that you can see very quickly that in this vast array of emerging photographers that Burn is touching and the VII Mentor program is taking under their wings, and we have to together find means and strategies to sustain the next generation into the future.

DAH: Well, yeah.

SM: Though we don’t support each other and when you think about the fact that although the Magnum Foundation has supported photographers from NOOR, VII, and VU’, there is still this suspicion as to why we are doing that. We need to collectively embrace the sharing of values and strategies in relationship to a landscape that is pretty aggressive against all of us.

DAH: Against the whole group, yeah. It’s like four rebel armies that all have the same philosophy, so we ought to get together.

SM: Well sure, and there are definitely differences and there are differences in the way they are organized, different traditions, etc.

DAH: Well sure, and they should have their own marketing.

SM: But there are many more basic values that we share.

The MF Human Rights scholarship of the MF is really different, even though there is an overlap with the EF at times. For example, Karen Mirzoyan benefitted both from the fact that he was nominated by a regional nominator for the EF and then he also became aware of the fact that we had a Human Rights scholarship, so he then was chosen to be a Fellow in that program and was sponsored for six weeks in New York which I think was very important for him. Then he goes to Look3 as part of our Human Rights Program and was exposed to a larger network of photographers there and editors who have helped give some exposure to his work. Or Sim Chi Yin who also was our first Human Rights Fellow along with Karen, and is now in the VII Network. She too became more visible through the MF opportunity. We helped link her to the New York Times who she now strings for in Beijing.

DAH: They’re going to look very good, and the Magnum Foundation is well credited.

SM: And so the point is the way in which somebody, by shining some light on work that’s done and deserves to be known, you know, for me just going back to when I did my first work in Chile and El Salvador with regional photographers, this isn’t anything new for me. The MF is just a different mechanism now in place. The challenge for us all to figure out is who is really interested in the work that we do and will they in some way contribute to the creative production of it?

So for example to me, even what we’re doing now with these photo auctions, trying to figure out if art’s organizations, patrons of the arts, who are very happy to have the product of our labor as a print on their wall, to what extent will they help pay for the process of creating work? Just as you see that somebody really likes what Burn is doing, and now will support an Emerging Photographer’s Grant through your online community, that’s great!

We need more of exactly that kind of commitment to what we do, either support for our process or of course, for our prints.

DAH: Yeah, well we are like you are. We are structuring and ready to change and come up with new and better ways. We don’t have a dogmatic set of rules for how we’re going to do. We try one thing and we try another thing and we’re hoping for stuff to work. At what point in your career, just to take it back to you as a photo journalist turned curator turned Magnum Foundation creator and interested in lots of other photographers besides yourself, when did that happen to you?

SM: I think that was very early. I think when I was in El Salvador in the early 80’s. I don’t think of it as turning, I just think of it as a dimension of work that I do in the same way Martin Parr does a huge amount of curating of photographers books now.

DAH: Ok, so you were always like this?

SM: Well, very early in El Salvador there were photographers all around me and when we tried to figure out collectively could we produce something that related to the civil war there…

DAH: You were the one that pulled everyone together.

SM: I was the one that naturally coordinated the project and saw the value of our different perspectives, which complimented each other to create a historical and collective narrative. Harry Mattison and I worked together on the book and traveling exhibition, El Salvador: The Work of 30 Photographers.

DAH: So you’ve always had that in you then.

SM: Well, that’s thirty years ago.

DAH: Yeah, so that’s pretty much always.

SM: It’s not new in that sense.

DAH: Taking it inside Magnum and officializing it in turns of the Magnum Foundation is relatively new.

SM: Yeah, I believe the Magnum Foundation should be magnanimous.

DAH: Well, I believe the same thing.

SM: And I think what’s complex about it for both of us is also that we’ve been, (and I even need a longer conversation with you which we really should be having now), is in what way we, Magnum, will continue to be exclusive and to what extent we can be more inclusive. In other words it’s not realistic that Magnum can service everybody. I mean what can we do well together and be a beacon for, and to what extent can we be more embracing and how broadly can we embrace. But you know the fact is that it’s a very complicated and shifting environment. And the few last standing small agencies or communities could all go under. Three strong forces surround us all, a declining economic model, a culture of free exchange and an expanding circle of image-makers — anyone with an iphone, etc.

DAH: But you’ve got your own books, your own things, and you’re supporting lots of other photographers.

SM: Yes, I’m not worried for myself. I mean there is the challenge to balance; doing your own authoring work, and what you then do editorially and obviously for me the Foundation is the biggest challenge I’ve faced because it’s not like a book that simply at some point gets done. It’s trying to create something that has continuity and sustainability financially and creatively and engages the energy of other people. So building a team is the most important thing for me to be able to do. To seed the ideas and to have it grow and be relevant by the fact that other people participate in a meaningful way. So that’s my goal. The question is how long is that going to take?

So when you say it’s my Foundation… that’s a little scary to me because I thought I would dedicate some years to try to anchor this, believing that it should exist, and the only question now is, is it going to be viable and sustainable? Will there be a large enough commitment to the MF from outside and within the organization, meaning amongst the Magnum membership, to understand the necessity for it… and fully accept that it isn’t there just to serve them which is very important, and from the broad public, who have to value the contribution documentary photographers with these values still make.

DAH: There will always only be a handful of people, or one or two other people that will ever probably feel the need or desire to put that effort into others. Most people are spending their time working on their own careers. Well, that’s kind of what I want to do with this interview, this little piece, to suggest to people that maybe they could play a larger role.

SM: Yes, there is no question about that. I mean the larger role could be at the level of just ideas about partnerships, whether they be for distribution or production of the work, or it could be contributing directly, financially. It could be suggesting people they know who would be interested in the actual work produced with innovative strategies of exposure, etc.

DAH: Because of the subject…

SM: Yes, thematically. Our vision is to take the work to the streets, broaden the visibility from contained print publications, back to communities or new contexts where it can be experienced and have greater influence.

DAH: Yeah, it seems like it’s primarily solving the problem of just communication because it’s just a huge job. You can only do one relatively simple thing at a time, right?

SM: Yes, I mean you know Magnum has always had this duality of a certain amount of individual authoring, and those authoring partners becoming brands of their own in balance with a very strong brand that Magnum has collectively. And the question is, what do we want Magnum to stand for beyond our individual identities.

DAH: Well to my mind, the Magnum Foundation would be it. In other words, I need stock sales, I need editorial representation, and print sales, and everything for my own career to pay my rent so to speak. But when it comes down to the ideal of Magnum, which is the main thing — like I said I need to earn my living, but if I was just looking at the ideal of Magnum — it would be represented by the Foundation. I see it as a real beacon. Now if that can somehow turn into production…

SM: So yes, that means how do you support thoughtful, critical, substantial work? That thing that you look back on in your own career and are the most proud of having done.

DAH: Well, that’s it.

SM: That’s sort of what we want to inspire and find a way to support. We’re not going to be able to fully support it, unless someone dies and gives the Magnum Foundation a million dollars! You know we would be in a different situation if someone would endow us such that we could really have that kind of stability and focus only on increasing our impact.

DAH: Well, the fact that we are even having this conversation means that you’ve started the ball rolling, right?

SM: Yes. But here is an interesting idea that any photographer could contribute to. We decided that when asked to give prints to auctions for the wide range of art organizations, (everything that we’re expected to support as members of a photographic community and do support with prints), that we would now ask for a small percentage of that auction sale to come back to the Foundation so that the auction print also supports on-going photography.

So, just as an example, we just did one for Photo Review, a small publication, which for years has been dedicated to letting people know regionally what’s happening in photography. Seven Magnum photographers are contributing prints to their auction and 25% of those sales will come back to the MF. It may only be fifteen hundred dollars that we bring in at the end, but it’s a symbol, a sort of gesture and it’s a symbolic act that we need to co-support each other. So whether it’s going to be Aperture or ICP or other such partners, the point is that inevitably, it is the photographer that gives and gives and there is the assumption that we should somehow miraculously be able to continue to create. So we want to be in a circle of relationships like that, building collaboratively new models of sustainability.

DAH: Right.

SM: And I think it’s really important to figure out ways to do that. It’s like, what does the patron want? What do we give the patron? There are definitely things we can do to support patrons.

DAH: Well, the de’ Medici, they supported a lot of people and they got a lot of art out of it. They made an investment and look what happened. It’s still rolling.

SM: We would love to have a circle of patrons that really believe in what we’re doing. So it’s not only a few who are supporting Burn’s Emerging Photographer’s Fund, but it’s a growing circle of people who say this is important, we understand the value of this independent documentary photography with critical eyes on the world and let’s work together to make sure it survives.

DAH: By the way, why did you call it the “Emergency Fund”?

SM: We didn’t mean a crisis like an earthquake or tsunami that needed to be covered. We meant the looming reality, the “emergency” is the challenge we face to sustain the production of quality in depth narrative photography that can inform and inspire global consciousness and hopefully engage paths to action.

Photography can be SO powerful!

 

Related links

Susan Meiselas

Biography Susan Meiselas

Magnum Foundation

 

BurnDiary

 

Candace Owens, Outer Banks artist/photographer, stopped by just now to get me to sign her copy of the June issue of NatGeo with my OBX story in it. I am right now so crazed busy, but how could I say no?

The mother of two of the cutest kids I have ever seen, Candace and her husband Randy are also part of my upcoming American Family series. So you will someday meet the whole family. One of Candy’s paintings (a mermaid) graces my wall. She also shoots weddings and family pictures for local photographer Brooke Mayo.

As you probably know I shoot all the time. Mostly casual snapshots like this. After all, lucky me, photography is very much my hobby. Occasionally I post here, but it always seems awkward. It interrupts the flow of the emerging photographers essays. So I mostly put my stuff on Instagram and share right along with everyone else waiting to see if I have any “likes”. Funny. Essay  in NatGeo, new book out, but looking for “likes” on Instagram. Well honestly I love to see how everyone shoots on a daily basis. What is happening now. I shoot these with my iPhone just to be totally amateurish in nature.

Fact is we all love to do this, so I have a new idea. BurnDiary.

Burn’s own Haik Mesropian has created now for us a new page where we can do this on Burn. Your Instagrams can come here. On a separate Burn “bulletin board” so we can interact for real with new pictures shot with any camera. Only one picture per person per day (yes, you too Panos). Let’s see how it works. Should be fun and it will keep our front page here clean only for essays OR for the the shot that YOU just took that we decide to bring to the front. So sharpen your eye, shoot what is around you in an interesting way, and fire it off to BurnDiary. Details coming soonest on how you will do this.

Thanks for stopping by Candace. Thanks for letting me take a picture of you as well. You are a model mom. My door is open to you and the family any time.