Magnum Photos was founded in 1947 by a small group of socially-conscious photographers who were relieved that the world had survived the Second World War and curious to see what was left. Led by Robert Capa, prominent professionals Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour set out to change photojournalism by allowing their photographers to retain copyrights for the images they produced. This unprecedented practice enables Magnum to sell a single picture to a myriad of different publications, essentially paying for their photographers’ freedom (Magnum phototogs are also never sent on assignment, but are at liberty to cover the subjects they find most inspiring). Today, the agency maintains offices in Paris, New York, London and Tokyo and boasts a library of approximately one million photographs, 350,000 of which are available online. On April 12, 2006 Magnum took its website to the next level by launching a video podcast, presenting the work of the photographers in a whole new light.
Magnum Photos offers up its InMotion videos in both essay and podcast form. Each 2 to 10-minute photographic study tells a beautiful story with carefully compiled images accompanied by music, sound bytes, and text to give the viewer an experience that goes beyond the pictures themselves. The Oscars essay somehow manages to both glorify and condemn Hollywood in the same breath, while the AIDS Day podcast is Magnum’s powerful, blood-red take on the epidemic. Some are authored by a single photographer, while others are a compilation of many different contributors, including Ian Berry, Peter Marlow and Susan Meiselas, to name a few, each with his/her own unique style. Some photogs also offer a written explanation to run alongside their work, adding to the story and revealing some of their photographic methods. If you’re a fan of the photos, stay up to date with new releases and general company happenings in Magnum’s blog or peruse an extensive portion of the site’s collection in the gift shop.
At once hilarious and disturbing, Martin Parr’s Agenda is unpretentiously cool. It’s the ugly side of consumerism in an ironic, sleekly arranged video montage. Don’t miss the Autoportraits towards the end of the video. Parr’s expression is priceless. Even cooler? The podcast entitled No Whisper No Sigh. Based on the concept of silence, haunting photographs coupled with a sparse soundtrack gave me chills I hadn’t felt since I found out Bruce Willis was dead.