Magnum Photos is an international photographic cooperative owned by its photographer-members. According to co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson, “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality and a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.” I am too much influence by their works and I always tried to study the works of those photographers. Few months ago I found these advices from Magnum Photographers to aspiring young photographers. It was put together by Alec Soth, who has done a series of tremendous projects such as his most popular, “Sleeping by the Mississippi”.
Here is those advice when they asked: What advice would you give young photographers?
If you want to be a photographer, you have to photograph. If you look at the photographers work you admire, you will find that they have found a particular place or subject, and then have dug deep into it, and carved out something that is special. That takes a lot of dedication, passion, and work.
Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. During one summer vacation (in college) I worked for a born-again tabletop photographer. All day long we’d photograph socks and listen to Christian radio. That summer I learned I was neither a studio photographer nor a born-again Christian. Another year I worked for a small suburban newspaper chain and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed assignment photography. Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures. If in your heart of hearts you want to take pictures of kitties, take pictures of kitties.
Find something you are passionate about, and shoot your way through this obsession with elegance and you will have potential great project.
Learn the craft (which is not very hard). Carefully study past work of photographers and classic painters. Look and learn from movies. See where you can fit in as a “commercial” photographer. Commercial: meaning working for others and delivering a product on command. But most of all keep your personal photography as your separate hobby. If you are very good and diligent it just may pay off.
Abbas – Get a good pair of walking shoes and…fall in love
Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Don’t be in a rush to make pay your rent with your camera. Jimi Hendrix didn’t decide on the career of professional musician before he learned to play guitar. No, he loved music and and created something beautiful and that THEN became a profession. Larry Towell, for instance, was not a “professional” photographer until he was already a “famous” photographer. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make shitty pictures that you don’t care about.
1) Never think photography is easy. It’s like poetry in that it’s easy enough to make a few rhymes, but that’s not a good poem.
2) Study photography, see what people have achieved, but learn from it, don’t try photographically to be one of those people
3) Photograph things you really care about, things that really interest you, not things you feel you ought to do.
4) Photograph them in the way you feel is right, not they way you think you ought to
5) Be open to criticism, it can be really helpful, but stick to you core values
6) Study and theory is useful but you learn most by doing. Take photographs, lots of them, be depressed by them, take more, hone your skills and get out there in the world and interact.
You have to fight for being a photographer! More seriously, my advice for young people is to go to exhibitions, to see books and try to do a personal project which they feel they have a unique approach of it because they are close the subject and need to express and understand urgently things about it.
Photography has something to do for me, like with Diane Arbus, with oneself through the others and with unconsciousness (sorry for my English: I mean “l’inconscient”) a psychoanalytic approach. I will answer to a third question because it’s linked with above: why did you become a photographer? I became a photographer because I don’t have memory. It took me quite a long time to understand that trough my personal researches (“Inquest of identity or a Jew in search of his memory”, “Chile. The roads of the memory”, “My father’s memory,” etc…),
I was looking for the “missing” pictures. Making my book “Inquest of identity”, I found out that my aunt-my father’s sister who was a Nazi camp survivor- had at her home a picture of my grand-parents deported and killed in Auschwitz that my father never showed to us. Thanks photography, I met my father’s parents that I never knew. That’s what I like with photography. It helps me to understand myself and the past through the present.
Hope you like the most inspiring advice from Magnum Photographers. You can also check 5 Famous Photography Quotes that Inspired me.