@magnumphotos ditches the photographers

For a while Magnum have been running a series of (highly priced) weekend seminars. Next month they come to my home town of Birmingham. I just had a look at the list of speakers on their website (always a good bunch), but see if you can spot what’s missing?

Tony Bell – Picture Editor of the Observer

Rhiannon Reid – Client Engagement Manager of 24 Productions

Peter James – Head of Photographs of Birmingham Central Library

Dewi Lewis – of Dewi Lewis Publishing

Fiona Rogers – Cultural and Education Coordinator, Magnum Photos

Laurence Watts – Head of International Picture Desk of ActionAid

That’s right, not a single working photographer speaking at an event about working as a photographer. Surely somewhere in the back of their dusty cupboard they can pull out a photographer willing to talk about how they make a living from taking photos?

Apparently not.

In the blurb Magnum states:

‘With access to key individuals working in editorial, commercial, cultural and publishing industries, Magnum is well placed to advise the next generation of photographers.

I’m told that they didn’t look at any portfolios this year. Infact the only person they added to the agency is dead.



Just something else worth throwing into the pot.  Earlier this year Rhubarb Rhubarb also ran a professional seminar for photogs in Birmingham.  The cost was £10 if you were local or £20 if you were from out of town and brave enough to come to brum. That’s at the cheapest tickets were THIRTY times cheaper than Magnums events. The line-up was bloody good too …

With speakers including London based agent David Birkitt, mobile media maker Christian Payne, photographers Ed Clark and Michael Donald, and David White of DuckRabbit,


Author — duckrabbit

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

Discussion (9 Comments)

  1. Quote: “In fact the only person they added to the agency is dead.”

    Do you think they may not have noticed?

  2. Justin Leighton says:

    Photography would be great apart from all those pesky photographers … they just get in the way of the real business of photography

    I had that Martin Parr once in the back of my domke

    A Photographer

  3. Ray Charles says:

    In the London’s workshop, out of six speeches, only 2 were kind of worth it. If Robert Capa could check this out…

  4. Adam Gasson says:

    Another generation of photographers will enter the industry with false hopes as a result. While I don’t buy into all the doom and gloom churned out by professional photographers at times I do believe that students and aspiring photographers need to understand the problems faced when it comes to funding and commissioning.

    Granted this is second guessing a more positive outlook that will be pitched by the panel above, but I can’t imagine they have a real idea of how hard it can be to break into the profession.

    ‘Client Engagement Manager’ is a lovely title though.

  5. I attended the Magnum Professional Practice seminar event last year, they gave away five free places through Ideastap.com. Although I cannot honestly say that I would pay the full price to go again, I do have to say the content was great and incredibly useful to me as young photographer from up north.

    Although I enjoyed David Hurn’s talk and musings IMMENSELY, I found I got much more use and ideas from David Birkitt, Michael Mack and Christian Payne who spoke for a good hour and a half each.

    I can’t comment on how Magnum run their business but I do have to say that these are worthwhile courses.

  6. Sara Trula says:

    The big organisations will get it eventually. My bet is on “approximately 5 years after the world has progressed to doing something else”.

  7. Gary Cohen says:

    I’ve taken one seminar and one workshop with Magnum Photos.

    I attended the same seminar as Victoria and, like her, I found the talk by David Hurn to be interesting and very humourous, but the talks by professionals in other parts of the industry proved more useful to me. I can’t speak for the other professional photographers, but it seems to me that if you already are a professional photographer and are looking for more exposure, hearing a photographer talk may not be best.

    Workshops, on the other hand, should be (and are) tutored by photographers as you are either trying to learn a new facet of photography or to improve your existing skills. I took the Street Photography workshop in Derby and enjoyed it immensely.

    In any event, I found both types of events useful but aimed at different audiences.

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