Magnum Portrait


A one minute movie by Chien-Chi Chang

838 Responses to “Magnum Portrait”

  • Kurt… it’s nearly midnight here.. have you tried to write them an email?

    winephoto dot staff at gmail dot com

    Don’t know what server Winephoto is hosted on, but know that one of the bigger ones over here had some issues today..

  • Thanks Eva, I did send them an email as well as a picasa link to my images. Hopefully they can slide the images into my folder.

  • Did not know if anyone has seen this….

    MAGNUM PHOTOS captures on film Magnum photographers Martin Parr, Larry Towell, Luc Delahaye and Donovan Wylie, the youngest member, in the field. Well-known photographers Rene Burri and Philipp Jones Griffiths discuss the history of this groundbreaking institution, putting its accomplishments into context. Filmmaker Reiner Holzemar was granted extraordinary access to the intimate workings of the agency. He is the first to have filmed the annual Magnum Photos meeting, where some of the world’s finest photographers decide upon the nominations of new members. Reiner was able to film Henri Cartier-Bresson, the camera shy founder of Magnum, shortly before Bresson’s 90th birthday.

    The video loaded slow for me… I suggest opening the link and pausing it while the whole thing loads before playing.

    Part One:

    Part Two:


    just returned from Sylvia’s memorial, no time or energy to write properly…


    if either of you think for a moment i was being cool or bashing Magnum, you are both entirely mistaken…..and that interpretation would be an incredible subtraction of both what i wrote and think…and, truthfully, would be even more unfortunate given my respect for what the agency has accomplished and accomplishes and my friendships with the members…shall i never speak a critical opinion about the agency?….

    if you think for a moment that my comment was an attempt to throw stones…if you think for a moment that my criticism vis-a-vis it’s male/female membership, if you think for a moment that i am trying to be a member or gain ‘friendship’, well, why don’t we end it here…my comments about that….surely, i thought we had a richer/deeper understanding and friendship…

    what i mean was a simple one, and i wrote this under John vink’s fbook page just last week when other commentators here was maligning the agency, that it is a simple thing to do and most often unfortunate. what i meant to suggest that NO agency is a standard by which to aspire: that is not only silly and euro-n.amnerican centric but dismisses the entire history and aspiration of other photographers/photography. Magnum is an extraordinary agency founded, built, and enlived by some of the artforms greatest practitioners. It continues to thrive and inspire and push. However, there is an entire universe of photographic practice that has no relationship to Magnum or it’s history. what i was trying to suggest is that IF a photographer defines her work, her aspiration, her practice by the idea of one organization (substitute, for Magnum, the name of museum, a gallery, a representative, a school), they will not only never achieve depth in their work, but spend their life pursuing a phantom. I know, since i’ve shifted my own photographic life closer to ‘documentary photographers’ (a la magnum), so so so many photographers who grave to be in Magnum, who grave to be around magnum photographers, who kiss ass, who bark at the moon and that act all nice, who hero workship and/or belittle others simply for the sake of appearance. What i suggested in my comment David/Paul was that magnum is not what one should aspire to, what one should aspire to is (in terms of photography) pursuing their vision of work, pushing themselves and their boundaries/beliefs and marrying that to the way they live and that defining any photography/photographic standard by the ‘name’ (for that is what others most likely think of) automatically vichiates great great work. I have immense respect for the agency, but more importantly than an agency, i have immense respect for the photographers there (history) and of those who I have met or know personally.

    honestly, anyone who aspires to history is seeking, again, a silly and superficial (but easily understood in that Psych 101 class) dream. History, if it matters, is a construct of back-looking….and then sometimes returns its gaze to those it had overlook…some remain, others don’t, most of us just disappear…and so what, who cares….

    that is all i am saying…

    and yes, i am surely disappointed in the reaction to what i have written…

    many of the best and brightest apply for membership, are interested in inclusion…and many many are not…and that is what i was saying…

    giacomelli had no such aspiration….Kiyoshi Suzuki, Fukase, Mikhailov, Jack Burnam, Mikhailov, Ginzberg, Seydou Keita, Timanns, Avedon, Frank, Kertez, Klein, Eggleston, Rodchenko, Sherman, Steichen, Uelsmann, Araki, Moriyama, Witkin, Goldin, Meatyard, siskind, vander elskan, Ronis, michals, Strömholm, Sidibe, Bechers, Calle, Raad, etc etc etc…i mean, the yardstick should never be Magnum/vii/MOMA/Louvre/Pace/Gagosian…the yardstick should be the work…period…

    that is all i am/was saying….period….

    why does an observation/critique have to be interpreted as throwing stones…or some attempt to be so hip as to denounce others (when do i frickin denounce other photographers????)…or as a sickly attempt to somehow kick ass for inclusion….

    LBM shows exactly the great truth about photography and especially contemporary photography: it is so so wide and so so exciting that anyone that defines ‘greatness’ or ‘interesting’ by any measure other than the work is just blind…and there are many photographers (especially it seems many young ones and many who tend to be oriented toward classical, social-documentary of the Magnum vein (of which, as an agency it is unmatched), who see only through their aspirations to be like/a part of magnum….that is what i was suggested for pitiful….

    what a major disappointment to be perceived as somehow cool or so shallow as to be perceived like that Paul/David…

    a sore disappointment…….

  • Bob; No I didn’t think that at all; was just commenting about human nature in general. :-)

  • Pete; That is the Magnum doco (featuring Parr at work) I mentioned last week. An interesting watch. :-)

  • Bob, that might be a bit of an overreaction there my friend. I believe you may be misinterpreting the response to your original post. But then, I may be an idiot for getting in the middle of this. Just saying, read again, I’m ducking back out the door. You’re all okay. I’m running. :))

  • tom:

    i’m not angry (wasn’t when i wrote), just trying to clarify what i’d written earlier…and also reacting to the perception that a criticism doesn’t mean that an observation and a critique of a group, is not in itself a criticism of individuals. my students, daily, criticize my school (as they rightly should) and i never consider this as bitter or throwing stones or hypocritical, and i share many of their concerns and frustrations and that it just doesn’t serve the conversation to see an observation as somehow embittered or a suggestion of pining or disappointment….for me, i’m just always open (public and private) about my reaction, good or ill, never trying to say what shall get me somewhere…and again, just suggesting that if the reaction to a criticism is one of suggesting that the commentator suggests being too-cool-for-school, then we should end the dialogue, cause it doesn’t serve a purpose….agree to disagree kindofthing….but i am old enough to know (including my own oversensitivity, particularly today, this afternoon) that some things, because of their nature and reaction, just don’t provide room for chat….anyway…what’s the point…i’ve wasted y’alls time enough on this, my bad…..

    ross: no, wasn’t even referring to you…human nature: what else do we have ;)

    kurt: just write the Winephoto admin, they’re a fabulous outfit…more than likely, they’re being deluged by submissions and i’m sure will sort it out…hard to find a better group of folk…good luck, bring home some vino :))

    off to bed

  • There are a heap of gold diggers out there who want that magnum connection why even the ice cream makers have one called ego, me I like the peppermint vesion

  • Bob, :)
    lots of misunderstandings here in all levels..
    i believe you wished there should be more women in magnum and everywhere else right?..pilots, soccer players (love Marta from Brazil!) …and any other craft…

    we hope for justice for “illegal” immigrants/minorities/we are against police racial profiling..blah blah..
    but truth is…statistics say that there are more african american men in jail than whites for example..why? because they are targeted etc..blah bla..blah

    we all agree on that, but we also have to agree that the best of the ladies that apply in Magnum, eventually gets accepted..
    so its not Magnum’s problem if more men (yes yes its still a man’s world unfortunately..yikes)apply…but im sure we all know that…
    anyway…i see misunderstandings here..yes we all wish for gay rights too but status quo still resisting..but people will insist back and win…
    but it takes takes lots and lots of time…for evolution and changes , will get there sometime, i dont think i’ll be alive, i hope i will alive… but it takes time..
    i dont think we disagree on all that…. maybe its all Utopia!..who knows..time will tell…
    but at this time i dont think that Magnum can or it is its job to “discover” women, men or anyone in particular…All, men, women, trannies etc should step out!All welcome, i guess!

    next beer on me
    USA vs France, women soccer WORLD CUP , Wednesday….
    USA beat Brazil in the penalties …
    (going to pee!)

  • Imants; I was in Kaikoura once and saw a bunch of tourists on the road, all clicking away. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what they were so excited about. I went up to chat to them; turns out they were from the US and were photographing the huge Magnum ice-cream advert on the side of the truck. They told me that they didn’t have (it was in the early 90’s) big advertising hoardings on the side of trucks at home!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”
    that’s for you BOBBY…
    hope vino was good…

    EVA…go back to the darkroom…good stuff happens in there…GO EVA!

    MYGRACIE…can you bring some peppermint (IMANTS loves it):)
    and can you find and bring KATIEEE too…
    my people!

    and talking about my people
    this is what I call …Reporting!!!

    “Teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say.”
    MR.HARVEY …you are MAGNUM !!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    THODORI…I need report from Cyprus…

  • magnum Ego came out in 1998 ….bring back the triple treat

  • 13 years and egos are still running hot on magnum???????

  • When we were kids in the oz country side we used to make an ice cream called “rats arse” funny how it never took off but ego did

  • a civilian-mass audience

    oh,and before I go…

    MARC…we love you …sending good energy to you and your family…(thank you BOB)

    IMANTS…ice scream on you…:)!!!

  • Bob…

    I wasn’t accusing you of anything of the sort, I was only asking your opinion on why one should not aspire to be a magnum photographer. The second was just me musing and asking generally anyone one round here and your view especially on why does Magnum produce such love hate reactions. But never aimed at you personally, only wanting to hear your opinion which I respect and listen to. I’m absolutely sure David didn’t think anything of the sort either…

  • BOB…

    If I may.. and yes, I know, none of my business and I follow Tom right after this.. you call David your friend.. don’t you think that he’ll know you enough to KNOW?? Stop taking everything personally. By running off from the discussion yesterday you’ve wasted way more time and energy today to write the above comments.. would have sufficed to answer Paul’s legit question.. not everyone knows what you write elsewhere.

    The last person closed to criticism probably is David. And you know that. Criticism here on Burn has never been a problem, as far as I can recall. But that also means one has to explain, otherwise it’s throwing stones. And you’re not one to throw stones, just not. Just, please, take the time next time, no running, ‘k? :)

  • why one should not aspire to be a magnum photographer………….because time is better spent taking the photographs

  • Imants…

    Why yes of course :). But surely both things can be done together.

  • But surely both things can be done together.,, you can but both activities will be comprimised

  • Now that’s interesting! Please keep on… Maybe a risk of one’s personal style being too influenced by those one admires?

  • But doesn’t one have to measure one’s progress by comparing with others?

  • ”When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.”
    Robert Frank

  • But doesn’t one have to measure one’s progress by comparing with others?……..No, that’s not your domain the audience and critics are at play here. If you want to be a photographer so be it, if you want to take photographs then you have to work despite others. Why all this I want to be different, I want to be history?

  • An unconfirmed number of casualties, about 50 wounded—only two seriously, extensive damages including one of the tree power stations of the island going offline. Cause seems to be a brash fire that reached a storing facility with ammunition that was confiscated a couple years ago from a ship in Cyprus’ international waters.

  • Sounds like Frank was interested in photography not being a photographer……. grin

  • IMANTS..

    one cannot not aspire to be a Magnum photographer except by making photographs…and your “place at the table of history” is determined by others….however, i think any serious photographer/artist will clearly see from whence they came and what influence their work may have…nobody does not care about this…at least nobody honest with themselves does not care…at least not anybody i know….


    you are fairly new in this craft..or at least, with the new zeal you have…early on everyone admires someone or some thing…maybe even tries to emulate or copy…this is normal…at some point however, one must break away from any emulation and find out the core of who they are…not who they want to be , but who they are….

    your only goal should be the work…i know in society most goals are attained by process of emulation and learning what went before…do this, and that will happen is the normal mantra…not so the case with the upper levels of photography…go now with the flow of your own juices… do not worry about an outcome or any place to be….

    only by being a truly unique person will you arrive on the level you want and even then it is a moveable feast…a fragile balance…rare air…you can do all of this by moving not one inch from where you are physically…savor the moments where you are and you will end up way beyond where you wanted to be…

    cheers, david

  • Imants…
    So it should always be like that zen birdie…The birdie sings because she likes singing no other reason…One creates art for oneself, totally personal action… if the audience accept it… great, if they don’t… so be it…

  • paul:

    i didn’t think you aimed ainy attack whatsoever at me….i was reacting to what david wrote and simultaneously trying to react to your question about my original statement that magnum (again, let us replace magnum with any other singular entity) should not be an aspiration, because that goes about the goal of work the entirely wrong way, etc…

    eva: listen, i was running yesterday because i had 2 things i had to do right then: 1) talk to marina and then run to prepare for a memorial for a friend who had died…as for david, yes, of course he knows me better and yes we are close friends and yes i know he knows me/my life, but i did believe that my comment may have been seen as an example of what he finds frustrating about others who do that meanwhile harboring ulterior motives…i always explain (way way way too much, too often) what i mean, and i didn’t throw stones….i stand by what i said about magnum vis-a-vis women, so be it, that for me, right now, this moment in time as a progressive organization, they should look toward balancing their numbes, but i’m not that important, and it’s an irrelevancy, my comment initially was an attempt to be humourous after watching the vid…and by the way, friends disagree, friends argue and friends do in fact get upset with what each other write, not in any grand way (i am not in the least upset with david for goodness sake), but we also write what we react….as for taking things personally…its about language eva…and i’m tired of explaining again…this was all my fault and as my wife would remind me, i should have known better than to get so involved invested in something not terribly important…i take responsibility…please just don’t lecture me though

    panos: ok, neext beer…gotta run, hugs

  • PAUL.

    there are two audiences..those who purchase your work, either by commission or by buying your prints etc., and your peer group…two distinct groups….for all of their commercial success, just look at Picasso and Matisse…they cared deeply about what the other one thought and at the same time tried to outdo each other…sure they were doing their own thing…singing their own song….this is basic…but you think either lived in a vacuum? don’t think so…no way….

    i do not think de Niro gives a damn about what his millions of fans think or the fact even that they have bought all those movie tickets…he is happy about it of course…but in the crowded premier of his movie , i am sure he only looks over to see what Pacino thought FIRST, then he bows to the crowd..

    cheers, david

  • No one just does it, works hard at it and well some are accepted others miss out. I wrote a series of visual arts textbooks, not because I wanted to be an author it was about the books, content and education.


    well, yes of course…this is not at all apart with what i am saying….and i think Frank calculated very very carefully

  • I know David that it is not apart just trying to get Paul to do his work not that of others. Frank knew/ knows he was great at his craft

  • David I will skype soon but early am start to catch a plane for Tasmania and hoping to buy some land to build a house on I am interested in,…………some where to live and die as Bob would say

  • Bob…
    OK! :) what I don’t want is any bad feelings over some comment I made. I respect and honestly appreciate your view/words/feelings. Laughing and please upload Loomings to Burn soon or you’ll end up showing it all on Facebook! :))))

  • Imants…
    Have a good trip and best of luck with that Tasmanian land and hope you get a good deal…

  • paul;

    no worries, really. i wasn’t angry with anyone, not u and certainly not david…i was frustrated with the amount of time writing saturday (my fault) and debating my comment with eve (not with her personally at all, but frustration with having to explain what i said as not being any kind of an attack) and frustrated with what i’d written about magnum as a photographers focus (i see way too many young photogs and sometiems here too) as a bad thing (just as hero worship)…again, i should have just clarified by initial statement, or written it more clearly, but i suspect i’d be in the same boat, defending what i’d written…the better tact should have been not to write anything, as marina reminded me on skype….but well, that is my nature, to write and to write with passion and write alot…sadly, i can’t change this about my self though i try…as for loomings, i haven’t shown anything on loomings in a while after promising david not to, …all reason pictures at fbook are either part of a long standing project on russia, or new work (like the picture of the falls)…no one will see anything of it until david sees the whole thing…but, some personal/family issues to resolve 1st before that day happens…but it shalll…

    running to teach and shutting down computer, just so no one things i’m cutting off….already late…

  • as for russia, most of that thing is a total secret from everyone too, well not total secret…anyway….

  • Thanks Paul but that’s where we differ we are not interested in a deal we are after something that both my wife and I can grow and learn with.

  • David…

    Been reading Robert Franks The Americans – extended version and I’m at last begining to understand, appreciate and enjoy that damn book :)! Seeing his earlier work, reading some of his letters and the contact sheets for The Americans has been extremely good. Thank god I’m a so stubborn… Yes, I agree Robert Frank calculated very, very well that work!

  • Imants…
    Money wise I’ve never been up to much, never made a good deal in my life. Actually money means very little to me…i wish it did I’m sure my wife would probably be a little happier not that she really is unhappy!!…but can’t help it, friendship, honesty and love goes always first… Best thing in my life was losing it all…


    i never saw hero worship as being any part of the way any serious photographer would look at Magnum..

    should young photographers have a good look at Magnum and the spin off cooperatives? damn well they should…for their own protection and proliferation of their creative life…a way to friggin survive if nothing else…

    ok here is the deal…and it is pragmatic not romantic

    Magnum was set up to do one thing…protect photographers who by nature need all kinds of protection….to allow the member photographers a distribution channel for their work, to allow control over the use of this work, and to make sure ownership of the photographs was in the hands of the photographer..HCB et al saw that if they did not get a handle quickly on all of the above, the publishers of magazines would quickly take advantage of their “services”…this is a biz battle/war that goes on up to this minute…the model for photographer ownership (cooperative) has worked so well that Noor, VII, Prime, Luceo, and several others have totally followed, with minor changes, the Magnum model…safety in numbers if you will…

    Soth is sick today and cannot help to pay for the scanner, but Barbey can, and tomorrow when Barbey wants to go for six months photo sabbatical , Soth has gotten better and can carry the load…group marketing,group books, group shows…tried it alone? not so easy…everyone in a coop is an individual of course, but a group of individuals is hard to beat and at no point does anyone in a coop HAVE to do anything…….one can participate a lot, or not at all…one can make one dollar a month or one million a month and have an equal vote…read that last sentence again…

    this is why the selection process for Magnum and the other coops is so so tough…you want great artists you can trust to grow, not just somebody who did great last year…not easy to find a long term person..and we do not always find them either…but that is our goal….that is why we are 65 years old , have outlived all other agencies, all of our clients who tried to take our rights, exhibit in the best venues, have the most prestige publishers, and have the very best talents knocking on our door as never before…other than that, there is no reason to take Magnum seriously… :)

    cheers, david

  • Hmmmm… Burn cooperative?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    MR.HARVEY…oime,you are lot’s of work for a civilian
    you are so quotable…
    copy and paste…niahh… I will let the words go…BUT I will keep the “feeling”…

    IMANTS…if you change your mind,come over…we are on sale:(((
    somewhere to live and die…as BOB would say

    What not to love…
    MAGNUM !!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    THODORI…sending good energy…

  • That was a very enjoyable video, and shows very well the slippery sense of humour Chien-Chi Chang has. I just bet he added some sound effects for fun. I’m not sure if Mr. Burri’s group portrait shows so much a “Men’s Club”, but it certainly looks as if the Magnum Agency is filled with wannabe fly-fishermen!!! ;)

    Like any fishing club or society, Magnum is a group which shares a common purpose; David speaks of the protection it offers its partners…there are other strengths inherent as well. The emphasis on photojournalism for sure – either straight or artistic – is one commonality, but a more broad, general shared interest would be their fascination with Man in the world. There is an obvious love for humanity, and whether the members’ work is approached through beauty or anger, the summit they attempt to reach is Truth. In that, we here on Burn share this passion. I cannot see any reason why the Burn editors wouldn’t publish an essay on landscapes, or still lifes, but for the most part it is our appreciation for humanity that drives us to this site. Keep in mind that not all photographers share the point of view and subject matter that we do.

    David mentions the relationship Matisse and Picasso had; it was based on profound respect for one another and the realization that, at the time, they were at the top of the game for their totally divergent approaches to art. It was a very peculiar relationship, and I don’t think it is accurate to say that it was strictly a friendship – there was much hen gossip spoken behind the back of the other, and sometimes quite bitter – nevertheless both realized that the dynamic rivalry between them was a positive force to their creativity. Again, something that Magnum shares…and maybe we, too? Picasso was also quite comfortable in borrowing techniques and styles from the past, as well as his contempories – he is famous for saying “I do not borrow…I steal” – and this should bring some comfort to those who feel imitation and emulation can be a positive force as they hone their authorship.

    Another thing: Sometime after the May workshops – led by Towell, Chang, Reed, Gilden, Barbey and David – it dawned on me that these particular photographers were so damned engaged with the teaching experience (in such an open, intimate and democratic manner) perhaps because they realized what was left now for them was to leave a heritage, a legacy; to pay back what they borrowed from whomever by giving it over to us in the present. Whether it is through the viewing of their work, their mentoring and teaching, or even by the moulding of some lucky protege, these photographers are well aware of the importance of their place in history, and the importance of how the dynamics of simultaneously open rivalry and assistance is to creativity.

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