In the circle of photography purists, when one speaks of the topic of photojournalism, two words probably come to mind: “Magnum Photos.” Meanwhile, for the younger generation, the importance of Magnum in its role in documenting our history is slowly getting lost. This is why it comes as a piece of good news that the producers of the critically acclaimed hit TV series “Downton Abbey,” Carnival Films is planning to bring the story of Magnum Photos to the small screen. “We’re going to be doing effectively the history of Magnum starting from 1947, which is so incredibly dramatic. There are also those fateful days in 1954 when Werner Bischof and Capa were found to have been killed. The history of Magnum is unbelievably dramatic.” Magnum CEO David Kogan tells the Guardian.
Magnum Photos was founded in 1947 by leading and distinguished photographers of that era; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, William Vandivert, George Rodger and David Seymour as an international photographic cooperative owned and managed by its members in the photography world. It has offices in Tokyo, Paris, New York and London. Co-founder Henri Cartier-Bressone describes it as “a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.”
In this Instagram generation and with such throwback series like “Mad Men” giving younger audiences a peek at the creative events of mid-20th century, the story of how “Magnum Photos” became a leading institution in the photography world, comes as a refreshing and awesome news. Nearing the 70th Anniversary of Magnum, Carnival Films has already approached novelist and screenwriter Ronan Bennett to write a television screenplay for the planned series.
Gareth Neame, Managing Director of Carnival Films said: “Magnum is an extraordinary and unique organisation, with a powerful history and an amazing story to tell. We can get right inside the key events of the second half of the 20th century through the lives and lenses of these photographers in a bold and completely original way. We are enormously excited to be working with them on a drama which will bring such a cool and compelling story to a much wider audience.”
“Magnum is too important to fail. It’s an incredible organisation that does incredible work, not just yesterday but today and into the future and the year I’ve spent there has persuaded me even more strongly that not only is it worth saving and prospering, it will be saved and it is prospering. So I’m very, very excited to be there.” adds David Kogan. For the younger generation of photography enthusiasts, the importance of Magnum Photos might have escaped us, but I’m pretty sure we have examined and viewed with profoundness, some of the finest images collated under the Magnum Photos brand. As these are the most iconic images of the events surrounding the 20th century and leading pop icons of the last many decades. Watching the story of how it came about in the small screen would be a great source of new knowledge for all of us.