“What is ‘home’?” writes Magnum Photos curator Pauline Vermare. “Instinctively, the idea of peaceful haven comes to mind. A cocoon where one feels secure, loved and understood – a nurturing and forgiving place.” It’s a topic she’s been thinking about in depth, because back in 2017 Fujifilm invited Magnum Photos to collaborate on an ambitious group project, which eventually saw 16 of its documentary photographers reflect on the idea of ‘home’. These photographers are better-known for documenting the lives of others, but in this project, they were able to create intensely personal work instead. “This project provided photographers with an ideal pretext to explore a place they held dear, a familiar and familial landscape,” says Vermare. “It was an invitation to look inward and outward. Home – an inherently intimate and introspective subject matter – was also a formidable challenge to take on; for the past seventy years, Magnum photographers have predominantly been looking into the lives of others – and seldom looking into their own.”
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said Magnum Photos co-founder Robert Capa, famously. This week Magnum Photos is revisiting Capa’s concept with its Square Print Sale, part of a cycle of four print sales it’s running to celebrate its 70th anniversary.
Alex Webb, an active member of the international photographic cooperative Magnum, published his border photography in the 2003 book Crossings: Photographs from the U.S.-Mexico Border. Webb, a regular contributor to the New York Times, Life and National Geographic, first visited the border in 1975, long before the drug-related violence that has erupted in the past decade. “On that first trip I became interested by the notion of the border as a kind of third country, neither the United States nor Mexico, a place with its own rules, its own traditions,” he tells BJP. Last year, Webb’s photography came to the attention of Academy-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins, who claimed it was a key inspiration to shooting Sicario, the unflinching feature film from 2015, set amongst the Mexican drug cartels, and starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro. Although initially shooting in black and white, it was Webb’s saturated colour photography that caught Deakins’ eye. Subscribe to the British Journal of Photography for the best stories in contemporary photography delivered to your door every month.