Notes from Magnum Photo’s Tips for Emerging Photographers

Understand the context

“Study the work of other photographers – the masters and your contemporaries, read photographic theory and online debates, understand how visual communication and culture work, and the wider context you are making and presenting work in.”

Suggested Work: Raised by Wolves by Jim Goldberg

-an example of long-term, collaborative storytelling

-photographing through objects, archival imagery and handwritten text.

Find your own voice

“The best photographic work feels like something we have not seen before, whether that is a story, a style or a feeling that it evokes.”

Suggested Work:  Tim Hetherington’s ‘Sleeping Soldiers’

Do you

Suggested Work: ZZYZX by Gregory Halpern

Ask yourself what will sustain you photographically

“Photograph the thing that you are obsessed with, the thing you are angry about, that you are fascinated by, that you want to understand. Make sure it is something that will sustain you photographing it over many years. The best photographic projects develop over time.”

Suggested Work: Dreamlife by Trent Parke

“…waited for the perfect light to hit the street corner…”

“A beautiful example of the passion and patience needed to make great work.”

Do the work!

“Do the work then spend time sharing it, selling it, promoting it, entering awards etc.”

“…making good work takes time. When you are hustling, it can feel like a very lonely, thankless pursuit. Keep at it.”

Suggest Work: ‘Geography of Poverty’ by Matt Black

“has taken four cross-country trips over 80,000 miles throughout 46 states of the United States, photographing communities living below the poverty line. The work is a master class in what is possible through sheer commitment and many miles of road.”

Go where your audience is

“The making of a book is a beautiful way to get your work out into the world, but it is not the only way. What impact do you want your work to have? Who needs to see it to have this impact? Where are they looking? How can you reach them?”

“One way of reaching a large audience and building a community is Instagram.”

““In my case it was important to be on Instagram because it has become such a fulfilling and fun creative outlet. I am able to look at, think about and take pictures with a freedom and immediacy that is more difficult with my ‘work’.”

Suggested Article: Magnum article

Build a community

“Photography can be hard and lonely. Build a community around you. Reach out to people whose work you like on Instagram. Organise a meet-up. Attend a workshop. Be generous with your time and ideas, help others and others will help you.”

Expand your practice 

The job does not end in the camera.

Suggested Work: ‘1915’ by Diana Markosian

Kill your darlings!

“you will edit out many “good pictures”, but the overall work will become better for it.”

Suggested: Mark Power on Magnum here.

Break the rules

“Read the rule book, then throw it out the window. Listen to all of the advice, and then do what you think is best for you and your practice.”

Suggested Work: ‘Agata’ by Bieke Depoorter

Enjoy the journey

“Photography can be playful and propose more questions than it gives answers. That’s the greatest thing photography can do – raise questions.”

List of Suggested Materials:

  • Raised by Wolves by Jim Goldberg
  • Tim Hetherington’s ‘Sleeping Soldiers’
  • ZZYZX by Gregory Halpern
  • Dreamlife by Trent Parke
  • ‘Geography of Poverty’ by Matt Black
  • 5 Instagram Lessons from Magnum Photographers
  • ‘1915’ by Diana Markosian
  • Mark Power on Magnum here
  • ‘Agata’ by Bieke Depoorter

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