Magnum Photos approaches new audiences in deal with Vice magazine

Vice magazine has joined forces with Magnum Photos to profile some of its key photographers. Gemma Padley speaks with Bruno Bayley, managing editor of Vice, and Jonathan Bell at Magnum, to find out how the partnership came about

Gemma Padley — 26 March 2013

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Venezuela, Caracas, 2006. A man in a devil costume runs around the streets of La Vega before a rally for Chavez. The act is to make fun of the idea of the "red devil of socialism. Christopher Anderson

“This is an opportunity for us to be seen by a new audience and to showcase work to people who might not have seen it,” says Jonathan Bell, Magnum’s publishing and editorial representative in London, of the agency’s new partnership with Vice magazine, an UK youth culture magazine. “Vice has a massive audience as does Magnum – although they are quite separate – so it seemed like a nice idea to introduce them to each other.”

The partnership was officially launched this week, with Vice magazine publishing its first interview in a series of photographer profiles. The inaugural interview features Christopher Anderson, who gives Vice’s readers an insight into his working practice and touches on various projects such as Capitolio and Son.

It’s not the first time the magazine has partnered with Magnum and its photographers. Anderson was featured last August on the Vice website as part of Picture Perfect, a series of video profiles of photographers, and Bruce Gilden, Martin Parr and Antoine D’Agata have also been featured in recent years.

“The online partnership with Magnum follows on from a few really successful features in print,” says Bruno Bayley, managing editor at Vice in the UK, who interviewed Anderson and is overseeing the series. ”We’re trying to show more photography online and I suggested doing something with Magnum Photos.”

The collaboration is part of a general move by the magazine to feature more “weighty” news-related content, including photojournalism, on its website and in the magazine. While photography has always been a central part of the Vice brand, an emphasis on news imagery and content is more recent, says Bayley.

“Over the past few years we’ve done our best to show more ‘serious’ photography and to engage with more news-related [material]. We’re publishing more news features and reports – content that a lot of people still don’t associate us with. We’ve always been an image-heavy publication, but lately we’ve upped our news coverage and shown more photojournalism. This collaboration is an extension of that.”

For Magnum, the collaboration with Vice is a positive one, says Bell, as it will allow the agency to showcase the scope and breadth of its offering by including interviews with photographers who are not typical of the Vice brand. “Vice has featured [Magnum] photographers in the past who are perhaps more traditionally suited to their market but we’ve always wanted do something broader. We hope to feature a range of Magnum photographers – not just those who are working on subjects that are in the news but photographers working on long term projects or those who are outside of the spotlight. It’s important that [the series] represents Magnum across the board,” he adds. “There are a lot of photographers at Magnum who have work that hasn’t been widely seen; I hope we’ll have the chance to represent all the different sides of the agency and its membership.”

The Q&A features will be published on the Vice website twice a month; next on the list is Steve McCurry, and Thomas Dworak and Ian Berry will feature in the coming weeks. “The first profile went down well so as long as everyone’s happy there is no reason to stop,” says Bayley. “We offer Magnum an audience they might not usually reach and they allow us to work with photographers who might otherwise be skeptical about [Vice].”

“Vice is an interesting brand,” says Bell. “They [have become] a credible news source and are extremely successful in a difficult market. It’s interesting to see how they’re speaking to their audience. The [partnership] has huge potential but it’s early days so we’ll see how it goes. We hope it will be an ongoing series and something people get used to seeing on the Vice website.”