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Pupils pass pipes that transport steam from geothermal drilling

INDONESIA. Sulawesi. February 18th, 2011. AFD. Pupils of Tondang village pass pipes that transport steam from geothermal drilling by the geothermic company of Tomohon, Lahendong. Photo: Jean Gaumy / Magnum Photos

Magnum Photos: A New Collection

September 17 2018

Robert Van Waarden

Today we are very excited to launch our latest collaboration with photographic agency Magnum Photos.  

Since the second world war Magnum photographers have been an important set of eyes on the world. They have documented some of the biggest events, names and stories of the last century. Naturally, the problem of our changing climate has not escaped their focus.

When Magnum invited us to take a deep dive into their archive to pull out some good Climate Visual examples, I was incredibly excited. Thousands and thousands of incredible photos. The main problem was avoiding all the rabbit holes and staying true to task.

The Matsumoto Family Farm is an organic farm

USA. Del Ray, California. 2016. The Matsumoto Family Farm is an organic farm which spans 80 acres, producing peaches, nectarines, and grapes for raisins. Photo: Carolyn Drake / Magnum Photos

That was hard. Magnum is, and has always been, at the forefront of photojournalism. It is hard to find ‘bad’ images in the archive and easy to get distracted looking at jazz greats, intimate portraits, or the fun of the races. When the story needs to be documented originally, clients all over the world call up Magnum.

Interestingly, that originality posed a challenge for our collaboration. These photographers are at the top of their game. The result is imagery that is aesthetic, complex, abstract, artistic and meaningful. During the Climate Visuals research our focus groups highlighted the need to quickly understand the image. How do we square that circle?

It has been something that as a photographer I have personally grappled with since joining the Climate Visuals project. Sometimes the best photographic images are not the clearest and therefore may not be the best images for ‘communicating’ climate change.

USA. New Orleans, Louisiana. December 2005. The Gentilly landfill, where hundreds of thousands of refrigerators are first emptied of their food contents and then of freon gas before being recycled. Photo: Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photos

In reality this was a luxurious problem to have while sifting the Magnum archive. There are still hundreds and hundreds of examples which show climate change communication done incredibly effectively, while maintaining an artistic credibility that is rightly revered. For a glimpse of what we found I invite you to take a look at our new Magnum collection.

If you find something that you would like to use, consider supporting quality photojournalism and licensing that image from Magnum.