What Magnum photographers have taught me

What Magnum photographers have taught me and what I never noticed till now about Magnum photographers is how raw their photos are. The don’t sugarcoat or glamorise anything. No fancy filters or post processing. Just raw images. I always thought to myself, their images aren’t innovative in terms of technique, but rather captivating because of the subject matter and stories they are documenting. So what goes into making a great photograph?

Hard work and a bit of luck

This might sound stupid but what makes a great photo is a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. First, you have to be there, in the action, right next to whatever is happening. Every photo captures something that relates back to us as humans, our actions, beliefs and the consequences of them. I think content is more important than composition for Magnum photographers. I reckon they would never ponder or waste time lining up the best composition if it risked losing that perfect moment.


It’s interesting the more you look at the work of this photo agency, sharpness colour, contrast, doesn’t matter. In fact, these elements and the serendipity of taking photos add to the feeling, mood and story of the images. It adds drama when a subject is blurred from moving too fast through the frame. Adding force when the main elements are out of focus. It shows the imperfections of this world. That no one is perfect and why should we be, when it’s humanistic to make mistakes.

Nothing is constant when it comes to comparing each photographer in this agency accept their discipline to capture the story. They document a period in time, showing content that goes beyond just a cover photo or article banner. Each photographer would approach this differently but cohesively work for the same goals, the whole story from beginning to end.

Looking at Magnum photographers will make you want to stop over thinking things and just press the shutter button. It’s a tool, it shouldn’t dictate how you approach a subject, it should just be a tool that can capture how you see the world, nothing more. The camera is just a black box that captures your perspective. Personally, my life is far beyond glamorous and polished. So why should my photos be polished when the Magnum’s raw and unedited style of image speaks the truth to us all.