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‘Does Magnum Photos still make sense?’ A report

This report by Olivier Laurent in the BJP is interesting in the way that there seems to be a re-evaluation of what it now means to be a photographer. This section from part of the report makes me wonder how possible it now is to make a living as a photographer, if Magnum photographers have to consider whether it is food on the table or pursuing photography is there much left for the rest of us.

“If you want to pursue your personal projects, you have to give up other things,” says Majoli. “You have to reduce the cost of your life and dedicate a lot of time to what you want to do. It’s a compromise you have to find within yourself – the family you live with and within the market and the resources you can find in that market.” In his case, Majoli has to apply for grants and accept commercial jobs to put money aside for his personal projects. “I have to reinvent myself every day.”

When you take the economics out of the equation, though, things aren’t so bad, says Anderson. “This is going to sound strange, but speaking just as a photographer and not as someone who makes a living from photography, I feel happy because, in many ways, I feel more free from the chains of the press.”

He adds: “As a photographer making images, I feel less controlled by making images for a market. The other side, the professional side, is much more difficult to make a living in and make ends meet. But, purely from the point of making images, it’s somewhat liberating that there’s no market left.”

But however you juggle the money issue, the deeper question is what it means to be a photographer, says Meiselas. “How do you find the work that engages you and sustains you? What do you contribute? Because the landscape is so much broader now, we see a lot, but it doesn’t necessarily last long. For me, it’s those dialogues. It really is the relationship with the subject that sustains me.”

Wylie agrees. “I think one of the priorities today, especially for a young photographer, is really engaging with your own voice. How do you find your own voice? Photography has changed dramatically since its beginnings. [Now we have Google Earth and cameras everywhere], so we ask ourselves, ‘Why photograph?’ You photograph because you want to make work. It’s like writing a novel. You make work that has layers, that contributes to a collective history, a broader history. The challenge is to get to that point.”

Magnum celebrates its 65th Annual General Meeting in Arles. Image © Rene Burri / Magnum Photos.

Magnum Photos celebrated its 65 years by holding its annual general meeting at Rencontres d’Arles. It was an opportunity for photographers to come together to discuss Magnum’s future in an ever-changing market. Olivier Laurent reports from the conference….READ MORE HERE