Visual storytelling to advance social justice

 

Magnum Foundation was established by the photographers of Magnum Photos in 2007. Amidst the collapse of a media system that had traditionally supported documentary photography, Magnum Foundation was conceived to empower independent, long-form visual storytelling on social issues.

 

Our work is grounded in the belief that images are a powerful tool for engaging issues and ideas, and that stories told in creative new ways by image-makers working within their own communities have the possibility to transform how we see and understand the world. Our programming has benefitted more than 500 photographers worldwide through grantmaking, training, mentorship, and strategic collaborations.

As the new landscape for photography projects became a permanent reality, Magnum Foundation has been at the forefront of creating new models for projects that pave the way for an expansive future for documentary photography.


 
 

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Evgenia Arbugaeva, Russian Arctic

 

SUPPORTING NEW PRODUCTION


I’m super grateful to Magnum Foundation for helping me kickstart a project like this, which I only had as files stashed under my pillows! And for helping me to start important conversations like this that need to be had. My project has definitely challenged the way people perceive queer people in my country.
— Eric Gyamfi, Ghana

Since 2010, Magnum Foundation has made more than 250 direct grants to photographers. Through production funds and project development assistance, we support both emerging and recognized artists at various stages of their processes.

Selected projects engage with a range of styles, from classic reportage to more conceptual frameworks, and explore new visual approaches, such as collaborating with other disciplines or experimenting with emerging technologies.

We work with an international committee of nominators to ensure we are inviting proposals from people whose authorship is underrepresented within the field of documentary photography.

Over 60% of grantees are from outside the US and Western Europe, with emphasis on photographers working within their own communities.

 
 
 
The Feminist Memory Project  by the Nepal Picture Library seeks to create a visual archive of women’s movements in Nepal. Through gathered archival photographs, other ephemera, and oral histories from around Nepal that capture women in pivotal moments of Nepali history, it consolidates contributions made by pioneering figures who remain marginalized in our male dominated historiographies.

The Feminist Memory Project by the Nepal Picture Library seeks to create a visual archive of women’s movements in Nepal. Through gathered archival photographs, other ephemera, and oral histories from around Nepal that capture women in pivotal moments of Nepali history, it consolidates contributions made by pioneering figures who remain marginalized in our male dominated historiographies.

 
 
Eric Gyamfi’s  Just Like Us  documents the everyday life of Ghana’s LGBTQ community, of which he is a part. His quiet and tender approach challenges stigma and discrimination by portraying commonalities between neighbors. Eric uses his photographs for facilitating dialogue and community conversations in local galleries, universities, and spaces of gathering.

Eric Gyamfi’s Just Like Us documents the everyday life of Ghana’s LGBTQ community, of which he is a part. His quiet and tender approach challenges stigma and discrimination by portraying commonalities between neighbors. Eric uses his photographs for facilitating dialogue and community conversations in local galleries, universities, and spaces of gathering.

 
 
Endia Beal’s  Am I What You’re Looking For?  focuses on young women of color who are transitioning from the academic world to corporate settings, capturing their struggles, uncertainties, and experiences.

Endia Beal’s Am I What You’re Looking For? focuses on young women of color who are transitioning from the academic world to corporate settings, capturing their struggles, uncertainties, and experiences.

 
 
 
 

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Zied Ben Romdhane, Tunisia

 

 

Mentoring the next generation


Being one of Magnum Foundation’s inaugural fellows in 2010, and the foundation’s continued support over the years has been crucial in my transition from writing journalist to visual storyteller. It does such important work being the wind beneath the wings of photographers out there trying to tell stories of our complex and noisy world.
— Sim Chi Yin, China

Magnum Foundation’s fellowship programs train emerging photographers, artists, and activists from around the world who are passionate about challenging injustice, pursuing social equality, and advancing human rights through photography.

Intensive group workshops and long-term individual mentorship support fellows in using their creative skills to inspire movements, to witness, to resist oppression, to pose the difficult questions, and to stimulate debate and awareness about critical social issues.

Since 2010, we have trained 67 young image-makers from 42 countries to be effective storytellers, creative leaders, and change makers. Our fellows have become models and resources for other early-career practitioners, cultivating an international network of peer support.

 
 
 
Fellows edit and sequence each others work.

Fellows edit and sequence each others work.

 
Fellows at the National Geographic Summit

Fellows at the National Geographic Summit

 
 
Soumya Sankar Bose | India. My friends’ stories inspired me to work on narratives about their experiences being LGBTQ in India, and about their rights, dreams, and desires. In a society that prevents them from living a “normal” life, this work imagines a world in which freedom to live according to one’s own desires exists for all.

Soumya Sankar Bose | India. My friends’ stories inspired me to work on narratives about their experiences being LGBTQ in India, and about their rights, dreams, and desires. In a society that prevents them from living a “normal” life, this work imagines a world in which freedom to live according to one’s own desires exists for all.

 

 

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Heba Khalifa, Egypt

 

 

Experimentation and New Ideas


We’re moving in a direction where we’re really thinking about what it means to tell a multi-layered and textured story and I’m really excited that Magnum Foundation is funding work like this that allows people to think about the boundaries of genres and the ways that pushing against those boundaries can allow us to tell better stories.
— Kameelah Janan Rasheed
 

Through project development labs, hands-on workshops, and an annual full-day symposium for over 300 attendees, Magnum Foundation is creating opportunities for image-makers to learn from one another across disciplines and explore new digital storytelling tools for increasing the impact of their work. Fostering experimentation and innovation in visual storytelling is critical for expanding the potential of photography to challenge the traditional perception of what documentary photography is and what it can achieve.

On such themes as data security, digital interventions, and augmented reality, participating photographers are able to work closely with coders, designers, and engagement strategists to most creatively and effectively push their projects beyond the still image. Oftentimes, these events are a catalyst for new projects and partnerships. 

 
 
Immersive Storytelling Lab with the Brown Institute for Media Innovation

Immersive Storytelling Lab with the Brown Institute for Media Innovation

 
 
Yael Martínez and Orlando Velazquez | Mexico.  The Blood and the Rain  merges photographs and traditional engravings to explore indigenous spiritual practices in the artists’ home state of Guerrero, Mexico. Because the rituals themselves are not allowed to be photographed, Yael and Orlando sought a way to document and honor the community’s cultural expressions without exposing or violating them.

Yael Martínez and Orlando Velazquez | Mexico. The Blood and the Rain merges photographs and traditional engravings to explore indigenous spiritual practices in the artists’ home state of Guerrero, Mexico. Because the rituals themselves are not allowed to be photographed, Yael and Orlando sought a way to document and honor the community’s cultural expressions without exposing or violating them.

 
 
Billy H.C. Kwok | Hong Kong. During the White Terror––a 38-year period of political suppression in Taiwan beginning in 1949––150,000 civilians were arrested and more than 20,000 were executed. Through his research, Billy discovered that executed civilians were allowed to write goodbye letters to their families, which were concealed by the government and never sent. He is integrating the letters, and responses from family members that he’s been able to track down, in hopes that the current government will release all of the original documents and letters to the public

Billy H.C. Kwok | Hong Kong. During the White Terror––a 38-year period of political suppression in Taiwan beginning in 1949––150,000 civilians were arrested and more than 20,000 were executed. Through his research, Billy discovered that executed civilians were allowed to write goodbye letters to their families, which were concealed by the government and never sent. He is integrating the letters, and responses from family members that he’s been able to track down, in hopes that the current government will release all of the original documents and letters to the public