Magnum Foundation

Magnum Foundation

Launching the Magnum Foundation Fund


Photograph by Eric Gyamfi. Rich and Dessie. Rich is a nurse and Dessie studies communications. They have been in a relationship for a year and also live together. 

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Magnum Foundation Fund, a program to expand creativity and diversity in documentary photography. In collaboration with the Prince Claus Fund, the Magnum Foundation Fund will provide production grants, project development support and mentorship, and other critical resources to both emerging and experienced practitioners. The Fund places substantial emphasis on photographers working within their home region or community.

Magnum Foundation Fund-supported projects explore new models of storytelling, demonstrate a commitment to social issues, and are grounded in the communities they represent. The program encourages experimentation with emerging technologies and interdisciplinary collaborations, as well as engagement with a range of styles and approaches–from classic documentary photography to more conceptual visual storytelling, from photographers who embed themselves in communities to those who engage as journalists. Grants will be awarded for both the production of new work as well as for second stage production on existing bodies of work that creatively inspire social engagement. Second stage projects may include proposals for installations, books, virtual or augmented reality pieces, or community action. More than half of the grant funds will be allocated to photographers who are working in their home countries.

The Magnum Foundation Fund is an evolution of our former Emergency Fund program, which was established in 2008 during the widespread collapse of media funding for long-term, in-depth documentary work. Since its inception, the Emergency Fund was a force for sustaining photographers and documentary practice. Increasingly, the ways in which stories are told and distributed is shifting, and the Magnum Foundation is fostering those imagemakers who are developing an expansive and innovative future for the field.

The Magnum Foundation Fund program is a collaboration with the Prince Claus Fund, an Amsterdam-based non-profit that supports culture in parts of the world where resources and opportunities for cultural expression and creative production are limited and cultural heritage is threatened. This partnership, based on shared values, enhances the Magnum Foundation Fund’s capacity to support exceptional photographers.

In today’s political climate, support for critical, varied, and artist-driven narratives is urgently needed. We believe that the world benefits from independent and diverse voices that seek to challenge the status quo, propel issues into public consciousness, and offer constructive ideas and solutions. We are a more empathetic, inspired, and accountable public when we can access, share, and engage with a range of perspectives.

Recent Magnum Foundation grantees like Eric Gyamfi, Thomas Dworzak, and Endia Beal exemplify the direction for the Magnum Foundation Fund, and our organization more broadly. They are experimenting with forms beyond the typical photo essay, expanding the parameters of documentary practice.


Cover of Thomas Dworzak’s “Europa: An Illustrated Introduction to Europe for Migrants and Refugees.” 

  • Experimenting with how photographers can engage with and serve their subjects, Thomas Dworzak has produced an illustrated guidebook for refugees. Not for sale, “Europa” is being distributed to NGOs and refugee centers around Europe. The book is written in French, English, Farsi, and Arabic and includes images from the Magnum Photos archive alongside recent photographs made during the migration crisis.

  • Eric Gyamfi is documenting the everyday of the LGBTQ community in Ghana, of which he is a part, in a series called “Just Like Us.” His quiet and tender approach challenges stigma and discrimination against the community by portraying commonalities between neighbors. In local galleries and universities, he has installed interactive bulletin boards along side his work, encouraging dialogue around perceptions of queerness.

  • Artist Endia Beal’s “Am I What You’re Looking For?” is a conceptual portraiture project. Collaborating with young women of color who are transitioning from the academic work to the corporate setting, Endia is capturing their uncertainties on how to best present themselves in the professional workspace when up against pressures to alter themselves for the sake of a job. Set in front of an office backdrop within their homes, they describe instances of employers telling them that their natural hair is unprofessional or that their name is too difficult to pronounce.

Photograph by Endia Beal. Mel, 21.“I feel nervous about entering the corporate environment, but I will not let that change my attitude towards success as a black woman.“ 

The Magnum Foundation Fund is by nomination only, which ensures our ability to reach a geographically diverse a pool of proposals. Nominators for the Magnum Foundation Fund are typically educators, editors, curators, and critics with strong ties to and expertise in specific areas around the globe and will be announced publicly alongside the grantees that are selected by an independent jury. This year’s jury is comprised of Danielle Jackson, co-founder of the Bronx Documentary Center, Tom Keenan, Director of the Human Rights Project and Associate Professor at Bard College, and Marisa Mazria Katz, Editor of Creative Time Reports. The 2017 Magnum Foundation Fund grantees will be announced in mid-March.