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Two years after the apocalypse that was called the Second World War ended Magnum Photos was founded. The world's most prestigious photographic agency was formed by four photographers - Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David "Chim" Seymour - who had been very much scarred by that conflict and were motivated both by a sense of relief that the world had somehow survived and the curiosity to see what was still there. They created Magnum in 1947 to reflect their independent natures as people and photographers, the idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum, emphasizing not only what is seen but also the way one sees it.

For today's younger generation of photographers there is much less of a sense that simply reporting on an injustice is sufficient, and there is a much more complex sense as to what is or is not possible to explain. Right now, "if your pictures aren't good enough" you may be too close rather than not close enough, as Capa put it long ago. In today's "information age" if the reader can be enjoined to enter the quest for meaning then one has succeeded. With all of Magnum's prickly personalities, with all the difficulties inherent in attempting to see differently, it is a wonder for many that the agency has managed to survive fifty years. Very few cooperatives are noted for their longevity. Magnum, in its idiosyncrasy, its inability to stand still, has been a remarkable exception.

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Two years after the apocalypse that was called the Second World War ended Magnum Photos was founded. The world's most prestigious photographic agency was formed by four photographers - Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David "Chim" Seymour - who had been very much scarred by that conflict and were motivated both by a sense of relief that the world had somehow survived and the curiosity to see what was still there. They created Magnum in 1947 to reflect their independent natures as people and photographers, the idiosyncratic mix of reporter and artist that continues to define Magnum, emphasizing not only what is seen but also the way one sees it.

For today's younger generation of photographers there is much less of a sense that simply reporting on an injustice is sufficient, and there is a much more complex sense as to what is or is not possible to explain. Right now, "if your pictures aren't good enough" you may be too close rather than not close enough, as Capa put it long ago. In today's "information age" if the reader can be enjoined to enter the quest for meaning then one has succeeded. With all of Magnum's prickly personalities, with all the difficulties inherent in attempting to see differently, it is a wonder for many that the agency has managed to survive fifty years. Very few cooperatives are noted for their longevity. Magnum, in its idiosyncrasy, its inability to stand still, has been a remarkable exception. More...

 
    Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photographer
  Henri Cartier-Bresson, Photographer
Regarded as one of the greatest photographers of his time, Henri Cartier-Bresson was a shy Frenchman who elevated "snap shooting" to the level of a refined and disciplined art. His sharp-shooter’s ability to catch "the decisive moment," his precise e...
 
    Robert Capa, Founder Magnum Photos
  Robert Capa, Founder Magnum Photos
On December 3, 1938, Picture Post introduced "The Greatest War Photographer in the World: Robert Capa" with a spread of 26 photographs taken during the Spanish Civil War at the battle of Ebro. The "greatest war photographer" hated war. He was born...
 
       
 
         
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