credit: Nicolás García via Wikicommons 60 Magnum Photographers Reveal Their Most ‘Decisive Moment’

Posted June 06, 2016
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Next year, in 2017, Magnum Photos will celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding.  In celebration of its birthday, Magnum will be having a sale of some its most iconic prints from the storied history.

In anticipation, Magnum has released some amazing prints and quotes from photographers about decisive moments in their careers.

There are a lot of parallels between photography and video.  Not only in their technical aspects, but their industries as well.  Here are some photos from the collection to inspire your next work:

“I spent more than a year working in Tripoli’s Bab al-Tabbaneh district in Lebanon, documenting a politically fueled sectarian conflict. I visited many homes on the frontline but people rarely wanted to be photographed because they were afraid, so I often returned home without having even turned my camera on.

“The day I took this photo, I climbed the stairs to the top floor of a building, which was riddled with bullet holes. When I was leaving one apartment, I turned and saw the children there on the chairs in front of the shattered wall; they seemed to perfectly sum up how families were living in the middle of the conflict. With one foot already outside the door, I raised my camera and snapped. Lebanon. Tripoli. November 2013 © Lorenzo Meloni / Magnum Photos

“Sometimes, you realize that you’re part of a moment that has all the visual elements that are necessary to create a good photo, and therefore communicates the atmosphere you were a part of. For me, that is the decisive moment. I had such a moment with this family in Amarillo, Texas. They had every reason to be unhappy and give up: three of the four family members were sick, they were poor and lived in a very dirty small trailer full of pests. Instead of going home, the parents often picked their children up after school and drove around town. That particular day in the cold winter they went to buy sodas and chips and decided, instead of going to the movies, to drive around the rich neighborhoods to watch the overwhelming Christmas lights covering these big houses.

“They never felt any jealousy towards the rich, they were just enjoying the beautiful lights and their time together. I felt the same and was happy that they shared this moment with me. This kind of moment is very rare and only happens to me about once or twice a year.” © Bieke Depoorter / Magnum Photos

“Sometimes I’m able to capture a decisive moment and other times, call it slow or lazy, I’m just dumbfounded by what is in front of me and am either late or I completely forget about photography and take no picture. In this case, I was lucky the dumbfoundedness allowed me to at least be late and to take a ‘more or less’ decisive moment. It is ‘more or less’ decisive because when I consider the decisive moment I of course think of Henri Cartier-Bresson and a photograph with a subject engaged in a moment that lasts a fraction of a second. In this image there is a moment with the street barber and his tools, but it is secondary to the boy’s expression, the subject, which continued for at least a minute. From the time I first spotted him amid a flurry of shoppers during rush hour in downtown Dalian, China, until after the photograph was taken he was still as a stone, just like this.” China. Dalian. 2010 © Michael Christopher Brown / Magnum Photos

See the full list here.


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