Partner Content: Magnum Photos

Magnum photographers on the Great Journeys that have shaped their work

Shortie's Dream. Barton, Vermont, USA. 1974 © Susan Meiselas / Magnum Photos

Magnum photographers share the stories behind their selected images for the Magnum Square Print Sale

Journeys, both literal and metaphorical, have been a defining element of the work of Magnum photographers’ since the agency’s inception. Inspired by Magnum co-founder, George Rodger, the fourth and final cycle of the Magnum Square Print Sale, celebrating the agency’s 70th anniversary, will present photographs that explore the theme Great Journeys.

For the first time, Magnum Photos has also invited a roster of artists published by Aperture to participate, marking the Aperture Foundation’s 65th anniversary and the long and diverse shared history of these two organisations. For five days only, from October 30th to November 3rd, over 100 archival quality prints – either signed or estate-stamped – will be available for just $100, via the Magnum Photos Online Shop.

“Good photography is based on truth and integrity” wrote George Rodger, who dedicated his work to documenting events of social and historical significance. The harrowing experience of photographing World War II and its aftermath led him to re-evaluate his purpose as a photographer. He chose to devote the remainder of his career to exploring the world in search of images and stories that offered visions of hope for humanity.

Rodger’s work took him to some of the most remote and uncharted regions in the world. His expeditions included a 28,000 mile journey through Africa and the Middle-East, and later, a Cape-to-Cairo trans-Africa journey during which he produced his extraordinary stills of the Kordofan Nuba tribe. 

70 years on, this sentiment remains central to the ethos of Magnum Photos. From physical journeys to both far-off places and those closer to home, to the internal journeys of the mind, the works selected by photographers for this sale embody the theme in a myriad of different articulations. The photographers too, with their array of styles and subject-matter, reflect the great journey of photography, highlighting the major visual and thematic themes that have preoccupied the medium since Magnum’s beginnings.

A selection of the available prints and the stories behind them are presented below. To view the complete selection visit the Magnum Shop here.

George Rodger

The Nubas. Kordofan, Sudan. 1949 © George Rodger / Magnum Photos

“One must accept the new Africa and admire the rapid advancement of the African people. And yet, with the passing of tribal rule, something has gone from Africa which no sovereign state or new-found national independence can replace. It is an ethereal thing, a mood or an atmosphere, born of superstition and pagan worship, something which once put the awe and mystery into the very word AFRICA. I travelled thousands of miles to see if somewhere, in some remote corner, there was not still a little of the old Africa that had been seen by men like Brazza and Livingstone. I found it at last in Kordofan.” – George Rodger

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Alessandra Sanguinetti

Two Gardens. Pehuajo´, Argentina. 1995 © Alessandra Sanguinetti/Magnum Photos

“This image is from one of the many road trips I made around Argentina in the 1990s.

I’d traveled to Europe and the U.S. in my teens, and have since been in many fascinating places. But those journeys into the interior of Argentina are the dearest ones of all. I discovered worlds inside a world I thought I knew.

To my dismay the back of my camera would often get stuck and make double exposures, but in this instance, it was a welcome accident.” – Alessandra Sanguinetti

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Bieke Depoorter

Beni Murr, Asyut, Egypt. March, 2016 © Bieke Depoorter / Magnum Photos

“This photograph is part of my new book As it May Be. After many years of exploring and undertaking big journeys, my consciousness of my status as an outsider started to grow, culturally and as a photographer. Therefore, I decided to go back to Egypt with the photographs I had previously taken and ask random Egyptians to write their thoughts on the images. Interesting conversations arose that sometimes questioned my relationship with photography.”- Bieke Depoorter

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Cornell Capa

John F. Kennedy and his sister Patricia Kennedy Lawford riding in a convertible on Lauren Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood, after his whistle-stop train tour through California. Los Angeles, USA. September 9, 1960 © Cornell Capa / Magnum Photos

“The greatest joy that the camera has given me is my gained capacity to see. The next gain is that I can ‘be there’ where things are going on and have the opportunity to partake. It also gives me a center seat, front (and more importantly a backstage vantage point as well) of the Greatest Spectaculars that man has created to impress others. It has given me rich opportunities to be one with fellow human beings of all varieties in their hours of trial and triumph. Thus I can live a thousand lives during my lifetime. Finally there is the satisfaction of showing others what experiences I have gone through.” – Cornell Capa, Camera magazine (October, 1963)

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Mary Ellen Mark

Caption: Ram Prakash Singh with his elephant Shyama. Great Golden Circus, Ahmedabad. 1990 © Mary Ellen Mark courtesy Aperture

“I’m always looking for something that’s a little on the strange side, some kind of tension or a feeling that is slightly off-putting. This picture of the elephant and his trainer is one of my most well-known pictures from the Indian circus. He had the elephant perform that for me (I think he was showing off). But what makes the portrait work so well is the elephant’s expression. I took several pictures of this act, so much so that the elephant got fed up. He looked at me from the side as if to say, ‘Ugh, Mary Ellen, that’s enough. This is your last frame.’ Afterward, the trainer insisted that I get my picture taken with the elephant’s trunk around me. It was very heavy!”  – Mary Ellen Mark 

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Moises Saman

Baghdad, Iraq. July, 2004 © Moises Saman/ Magnum Photos

“Iraq has come to represent quite a personal journey in my life. The war there has defined me and my generation, and as such I find myself returning year after year. For me, a journey is not just the act of traveling, it’s also, and perhaps more importantly, about surrendering any preconceived notions or prejudices, and accepting that which is outside of your control.

I took this photograph in 2004, in the aftermath of the American invasion. I remember sharing the same false sense of optimism that was obvious only on the surface. I did not know it back then, but the beginning of my real journey in Iraq had not yet begun.” – Moises Saman

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Susan Meiselas

Shortie’s Dream. Barton, Vermont, USA. 1974 © Susan Meiselas / Magnum Photos

The dream of the road: the place to escape, to wander, to encounter something beyond what you had imagined you’d find. That’s what led Shortie to leave home to strip in the Girl Show. We intersected while traveling through New England.

Journeys are physical and emotional disruptions that involve both body and mind. For me, this journey also meant finding a new path. I followed the carnivals with the desire to make images and share the words of women whose working lives forced them to make extremely difficult choices to launch their dreams.” – Susan Meiselas

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Don McCullin

The Road to Somme. France. 2000 © Don McCullin courtesy Aperture

“I was visiting the World War I battlefield sites of the Somme. There’d been a heavy rainstorm, I was driving, and I suddenly saw this silver road, disappearing into infinity. I felt immediately that the road was a voice, telling me something about history—a road along which millions of soldiers had marched into fear, pain, and death. I injected a lot of my own thoughts into that picture.

There’s a lot of darkness in this simple landscape. I see darkness as my voice. I’m speaking for the victims and casualties of war, because they’re not around to speak for themselves. In war, you see a lot of damaged human beings. They can’t talk because they’re in immense depths of shock and horror. I make my pictures dark, to speak what other people can’t speak.” – Don McCullin

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Marilyn Silverstone

Warrior dancers, attendants of the sacred Mt. Kangchenjunga and defenders of the Dharma, during the Sikkimese New year dances. Gangtok, Sikkim. 1968 © Marilyn Silverstone / Magnum Photos

“Marilyn’s entire life was a journey. Born in London, she moved with her family at a young age to America, where she attended university. Later, as a photo journalist, she travelled to many different places. Especially for a woman working during these times, she was particularly fearless and adventurous. Marilyn lived in India for a significant portion of her life. This picture was taken in what is now the state of Sikkim, in northeastern India. In the sacred dances like the one performed in this image, swords are used to symbolize wisdom cutting through ignorance.” – Vivian Kurz, Director of Dilgo Khyentse Fellowship/Shechen, Marilyn Silverstone Estate

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Joel Meyerowitz

Scotty’s Drive-in. Florida. 1967 © Joel Meyerowitz courtesy Aperture

“Here’s Scotty’s .Sometimes when you’re traveling in the car all day, on the lookout for life on the fly, a great thirst comes over you and that desire for the next event evaporates immediately upon seeing an old-fashioned diner, I mean the real thing, not some dolled-up imitation serving prepackaged crap, but a place where some degree of reverence for the past lets you know that a milkshake from childhood can be found there. And here’s Scotty’s. Mmmmmm”

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Great Journeys’ Magnum Square Print Sale in Partnership with Aperture runs from 9AM EST Monday 30 October until 6PM EST Friday 3 November 2017. Signed and estate stamped, museum quality 6×6” prints from over 100 artists will exceptionally be available for $100, for 5 days only, from shop.magnumphotos.com