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The Magnum Symposium was an intimate affair at Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey Square, South East London. Speakers included: Susan Meiselas, Chris Anderson, Abbas, Peter Marlow, Thomas Dworzak and Jonas Bendiksen. There was also a great technical and editorial team present including Magnum Cultural & Education Manager Fiona Rogers and Rachel Segal Hamilton from Ideastap who tweeted the whole event eventually suffering from RSI!

Susan Meiselas gave insight into the making of “Postcards from America” where 10 Magnum photographers shared an RV travelling to Rochester in 2011 (the former home of Kodak, which went bankrupt that year). She also challenged us to think about what we, the new generation of photographers, can add to the conversation with everybody now having some sort of camera and images being everywhere.

Chris Anderson showed us and talked about his “Life Work” called “Son” and the stony road to get there. The book will be published shortly in Germany.

Abbas, with his charismatic appearance didn’t show any photographs and wanted to stay in the dark with the lights switched off, which was rather amusing and quite appealing to most of us. He outlined his bio and the process of joining the Magnum family, drawing amusing parallels with boyfriends/ girlfriends, engagement and marriage to the status of nominee, associate and member.

Abbas then got hijacked by a small panel of other Magnum photographers joining the floor and engaging in discussions on: Interaction with the online community, copyright protection, the scopes of moving image and multi-media and where the hell we are all heading to. Abbas defended the significance of the “still image” and the pay for photographic images insisting that it is “the still image that has the power to hold us”. Whereas Anderson and Bendiksen were more open to experimenting with the moving image and sharing their images freely with the online community – although only for personal not commercial use.

Peter Marlow saw the glass half full stating that new media adds opportunities. Not to forget Thomas Dworzaks closing quote: “I don’t care if someone takes a photograph with an i-phone or a washing machine as long as it’s good”. In the end the audience got more and more engaged making for a lively debate on the future of the medium. All in all this was a great event and a privilege to be part of.

The question that emerged was that of “how do we differentiate ourselves as professionals?” Feel free to comment…Thank you all and see you again soon!

Magnum Symposium took place on 29th June 6pm- 8:30pm and was organised in conjunction with Ideastap.

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