35 Magnum Photographers Give Their Advice to Aspiring Photographers

(Above image copyrighted by Alex Majoli)

Bill Reeves, a passionate photographer who is fortunate enough to have Magnum photographers Eli Reed and Paolo Pellegrin as his mentors, told me about a blog post that Magnum had a while back regarding advice to young photographers. It was put together by Alec Soth, who has done a series of fascinating projects such as his most popular, “Sleeping by the Missisippi” which was done on a 8×10 view camera. An interesting excerpt that Bill put together about Alec is below:

Alec writes up lists of things to shoot. Some normal objects, like suitcases, and others more weird, like unusually tall people. He would tape this list to his steering wheel, and be reminded to shoot those things when he saw them. When he found someone to shoot, he would talk to them, and from that conversation find the next thing to go looking for. An example is he did a portrait of a guy who built model airplanes, and then a portrait of a hooker. The link? She had airplanes painted on her nails. He then went to photograph Charles Lindberg’s childhood home, which led him to photograph Johnny Cash’s boyhood home and so on and so forth.

I found the advice that these Magnum photographers is golden–and have shared it here to spread the love and knowledge. Keep reading to see their inspirational images and advice. You can also download the free PDF here.



Copyright: Abbas

What advice would you give young photographers?
Get a good pair of walking shoes and…fall in love

» Abbas’ Magnum Portfolio

Alec Soth


Copyright: Alec Soth

What advice would you give young photographers?
Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. During one summer vacation (in college) I worked for a born-again tabletop photographer. All day long we’d photograph socks and listen to Christian radio. That summer I learned I was neither a studio photographer nor a born-again Christian. Another year I worked for a small suburban newspaper chain and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed assignment photography. Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures. If in your heart of hearts you want to take pictures of kitties, take pictures of kitties.

» Alec Soth’s Magnum Portfolio

Alex Majoli

Copyright: Alex Majoli

What advice would you give young photographers?
I would advise to read a lot of literature and look as little as possible other photographers. Work everyday even without assignments or money, work, work, work with discipline for yourself and not for editors or awards. And also collaborate with people not necessary photographers but people you admire. The key word to learn is participation!

» Alex Majoli’s Magnum Portfolio

Alex Webb

Copyright: Alex Webb

What advice would you give young photographers?
Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards — recognition, financial remuneration — come to so few and are so fleeting. And even if you are somewhat successful, there will almost inevitably be stretches of time when you will be ignored, have little income, or — often — both. Certainly there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society. Take photography on as a passion, not a career.

» Alex Webb’s Magnum Portfolio

Alessandra Sanguinetti


Copyright: Alessandra Sanguinetti

What advice would you give young photographers?
I could use some good advice myself…but first thing that springs to mind is Bob Dylan’s’: “keep a good head and always carry a light bulb.”

» Alessandra Sanguinetti’s Magnum Portfolio

Bruce Gilden


Copyright: Bruce Gilden

What advice would you give young photographers?
My advice: “Photograph who you are!”

» Bruce Gilden’s Magnum Portfolio

Carl De Keyzer


Copyright: Carl De Keyzer

What advice would you give young photographers?
Give it all you got for at least 5 years and then decide if you got what it takes. Too many great talents give up at the very beginning; the great black hole looming after the comfortable academy or university years is the number one killer of future talent.

» Carl De Keyzer’s Magnum Portfolio

Christopher Anderson


Copyright: Christopher Anderson

What advice would you give young photographers?
Forget about the profession of being a photographer. First be a photographer and maybe the profession will come after. Don’t be in a rush to make pay your rent with your camera. Jimi Hendrix didn’t decide on the career of professional musician before he learned to play guitar. No, he loved music and and created something beautiful and that THEN became a profession. Larry Towell, for instance, was not a “professional” photographer until he was already a “famous” photographer. Make the pictures you feel compelled to make and perhaps that will lead to a career. But if you try to make the career first, you will just make shitty pictures that you don’t care about.

» Christopher Anderson’s Magnum Portfolio

Chris Steele-Perkins


Copyright: Chris Steele-Perkins

What advice would you give young photographers?
1) Never think photography is easy. It’s like poetry in that it’s easy enough to make a few rhymes, but that’s not a good poem.
2) Study photography, see what people have achieved, but learn from it, don’t try photographically to be one of those people
3) Photograph things you really care about, things that really interest you, not things you feel you ought to do.
4) Photograph them in the way you feel is right, not they way you think you ought to
5) Be open to criticism, it can be really helpful, but stick to you core values
6) Study and theory is useful but you learn most by doing. Take photographs, lots of them, be depressed by them, take more, hone your skills and get out there in the world and interact.

» Chris Steele-Perkins’ Magnum Portfolio

Constantine Manos


Copyright: Constantine Manos

What advice would you give young photographers?
Try not to take pictures, which simply show what something looks like. By the way you put the elements of an image together in a frame show us something we have never seen before and will never see again. And remember that catching a moment makes the image even more unique in the stream of time. Also, try to do workshops with photographers whose work you admire, but first ask around to make sure they are good teachers as well as good photographers. Taking good pictures is easy. Making very good pictures is difficult. Making great pictures is almost impossible.

» Constantine Manos’ Magnum Portfolio

David Alan Harvey

Copyright: David Alan Harvey

What advice would you give young photographers?
You must have something to “say”. You must be brutally honest with yourself about this. Think about history , politics, science, literature, music, film, and anthropology. What affects does one discipline have over another? What makes “man” tick? Today , with everyone being able to easily make technically perfect photographs with a cell phone, you need to be an “author”. It is all about authorship, authorship and authorship. Many young photographers come to me and tell me their motivation for being a photographer is to “travel the world” or to “make a name” for themselves. Wrong answers in my opinion. Those are collateral incidentals or perhaps even the disadvantages of being a photographer. Without having tangible ideas , thoughts, feelings, and something almost “literary” to contribute to “the discussion”, today’s photographer will become lost in the sea of mediocrity. Photography is now clearly a language. As with any language, knowing how to spell and write a gramatically correct “sentence” is , of course, necessary. But, more importantly, today’s emerging photographers now must be “visual wordsmiths” with either a clear didactic or an esoteric imperitive. Be a poet, not a technical “writer”. Perhaps more simply put, find a heartfelt personal project. Give yourself the “assignment” you might dream someone would give you. Please remember, you and only you will control your destiny. Believe it, know it, say it.

» David Alan Harvey’s Magnum Portfolio

Donovan Wylie


Copyright: Donovan Wylie

What advice would you give young photographers?
Never stop enjoying it. Try and not “look” for pictures but keep yourself always open and allow yourself to be stimulated by whatever hits you. Work towards a goal…book, exhibition… but more importantly work towards finding your own voice, your subject and your application. Accept that your work is more about you than what you represent, try to bridge that balance, without resorting to photographing your feet! In other words try and translate personal experience into a collective one, it is very possible and I think the key quest of any art form…(study the book “Waffenruhe” by Michael Schmidt) – study all the great photographers and love doing it, start at the beginning, look at early American, and German, then French, then take a close look at artists using photography in the sixties, Rusha etc. Don’t get bogged down in theory, but respect it, read Robert Adams on Photography, in fact embrace Robert Adams generally and you will learn a lot. Read literature, especially early Russian, French and modern American, (and Irish, Joyce), the journey literature has taken as an art form in terms of description and representation is very similar to photography. Don’t rely on style for the sake of it, if you have your own subject, you can adopt other peoples styles if it helps, and visa versa, if you photograph something every one has, then adopt an style, execution, that can only be yours, eventually you will achieve both, your own voice will come through, but it can take time. Study the book ‘How You Look at It’…Important essays there will help you. Always try and be honest with yourself… for example, is the idea of being a photographer more exciting to you than photography itself, if this is true think about becoming an actor…………………..if you genuinely love photography don’t give it up. Understand and enjoy the fact that photography is a unique medium. Respect and work within photography’s limitations, you will go much further.

» Donovan Wylie’s Magnum Portfolio

David Hurn

Copyright: David Hurn

What advice would you give young photographers?
Don’t become a photographer unless its what you ‘have’ to do. It can’t be the easy option. If you become a photographer you will do a lot of walking so buy good shoes.

» David Hurn’s Magnum Portfolio

Dennis Stock


Copyright: Dennis Stock

What advice would you give young photographers?
Young photographers should learn their craft well and don’t expect to make a constant living at taking pictures. But they should FOLLOW THEIR BLISS. Find time to pursue themes that indicate their concerns, big and small. Above all when shooting, MAKE AN ARTICULATE IMAGE.

» Dennis Stock’s Magnum Portfolio

Eli Reed


Copyright: Eli Reed

What advice would you give young photographers?
Stop talking theory when a camera is in their your and do not over-think the image. Lose the ego and let the photograph find you. Observe the life moving like a river around you and realize that the images you make may become part of the collective history of the time that you are living in.

» Eli Reed’s Magnum Portfolio

Elliott Erwitt


Copyright: Elliott Erwitt

What advice would you give young photographers?
Learn the craft (which is not very hard). Carefully study past work of photographers and classic painters. Look and learn from movies. See where you can fit in as a “commercial” photographer. Commercial: meaning working for others and delivering a product on command. But most of all keep your personal photography as your separate hobby. If you are very good and diligent it just may pay off.

» Elliott Erwitt’s Magnum Portfolio

Lise Sarfati


Copyright: Lise Sarfati

What advice would you give young photographers?
Read a lot and create your own universe. Learn how to construct and create a series. Do not be impressed by other works. Try to innovate or simply to be yourself.

» Lise Sarfati’s Magnum Portfolio

Martine Franck


Copyright: Martine Franck

What advice would you give young photographers?
My advice to photographers is to get out there in the field and take photographs but also if they are students to finish their course, learn as many languages as possible, go to movies, read books visit museums, broaden your mind.

» Martine Frank’s Magnum Portfolio

Harry Gruyaert


Copyright: Harry Gruyaert

What advice would you give young photographers?
Be yourself, Don’t copy anybody.

» Harry Gruyaert’s Magnum Portfolio

Hiroji Kubota


Copyright: Hiroji Kubota

What advice would you give young photographers?
Study the works of the greatest photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Kertesz. Try to travel to many parts of the world and understand what a diverse world we live in.

» Hiroji Kubota’s Magnum Portfolio

John Vink


Copyright: John Vink

What advice would you give young photographers?
Don’t stop questioning yourself (it’ll make you less arrogant). Push. Push, scratch, dig… Push further… And stop when you don’t enjoy it anymore… But most of all respect those you photograph…

» John Vink’s Magnum Portfolio

Jonas Bendiksen


Copyright: Jonas Bendiksen

What advice would you give young photographers?

Throw yourself off a cliff. Figuratively speaking, I mean. Photography is a language. Think about what you want to use it to talk about. What are you interested in? What questions do you want to ask? Then, go for it, and throw yourself into talking about that topic, using photography. Make a body of work about that.

» Jonas Bendiksen’s Magnum Portfolio

Larry Towell


Copyright: Larry Towell

What advice would you give young photographers?
Be yourself and look outside of yourself.

» Larry Towell’s Magnum Portfolio

Mark Power


Copyright: Mark Power

What advice would you give young photographers?
Although there are far more people trying to ‘be photographers’ than there were in those heady days of 1980, there are also far more opportunities. Gone are the days, thankfully, when a commercial assignment, or even a picture in a newspaper, can damage the chance of gallery representation.

Yet what is clear is that a number of ‘good pictures’ are no longer enough; today it has to be about ideas, and about the intent of the work. If you have something to say, and even better you have an innovative way of saying it then opportunities are out there.

I sense that photography is concerning itself with real issues again. For some time much of photography seemed to be about itself, and while this was fine, and interesting in some cases, it’s not what photography is really good at. Understand this by familiarising yourself with the rich and wonderful history of our medium. Be proud of it, what it has, and what it can, achieve. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Be inspired. Try and copy, if you like (because no one can).

Find a subject you care about. Something that moves you. Something which stirs your rawest emotions. And then have patience.

» Mark Power’s Magnum Portfolio

Martin Parr


Copyright: Martin Parr

What advice would you give young photographers?

Find something you are passionate about, and shoot your way through this obsession with elegance and you will have potential great project.

» Martin Parr’s Magnum Portfolio

Mikhael Subotzky


Copyright: Mikhael Subotzky

What advice would you give young photographers?
Stick to one project for a long time. And keep working on it through many stages of learning, even if it might feel finished. Its the only way to break through what I think are some vital lessons that need to be learnt about story-telling and how to combine images.

» Mikhael Subotzky’s Magnum Portfolio

Olivia Arthur


Copyright: Olivia Arthur

What advice would you give young photographers?
My main piece of advice for young photographers who have just come out of college is to get away from the ‘hubs’ of photography like London and New York. There are so many photographers touting their portfolios round in places like this that people end up fighting to do jobs that are not what they really want, just to make ends meet. It’s the kind of environment that doesn’t fuel anyone’s creativity (well mostly anyway…). My advice: go out and do the things they really want to before getting tied in…if they don’t take the risk at the beginning they’ll find it much harder to come back and take it later on.

» Olivia Arthur’s Magnum Portfolio

Paolo Pellegrin


Copyright: Paolo Pellegrin

What advice would you give young photographers?

I believe photography – like many other things one does in life – is the exact expression of who one is at a given moment: every time you compose and release the shutter you give voice to your thoughts and opinions of the world around you. So other than the obvious patience (photography is a complex medium, a voice which requires time to develop) and perseverance and the necessary humility when dealing with others, I would recommend working to become a more developed and informed individual, a more knowledgeable and engaged citizen. This will translate into a deeper more complex understanding of the world around you, and ultimately into a richer and more meaningful photography.

» Paolo Pellegrin’s Magnum Portfolio

Patrick Zachmann


Copyright: Patrick Zachmann

What advice would you give young photographers?
You have to fight for beeing a photographer! More seriously, my advice for young poeple is to go to exhibitions, to see books and try to do a personal project which they feel they have a unique approach of it because they are close the subject and need to express and understand urgently things about it.
Photography has something to do for me, like with Diane Arbus, with oneself through the others and with unconsciousness (sorry for my English: I mean “l’inconscient”) a psychoanalytic approach. I will answer to a third question because it’s linked with above: why did you become a photographer? I became a photographer because I don’t have memory. It took me quite a long time to understand that trough my personal researches (“Inquest of identity or a Jew in search of his memory”, “Chile. The roads of the memory”, “My father’s memory,” etc…), I was looking for the “missing” pictures. Making my book “Inquest of identity”, I found out that my aunt-my father’s sister who was a Nazi camp survivor- had at her home a picture of my grand-parents deported and killed in Auschwitz that my father never showed to us. Thanks photography, I met my father’s parents that I never knew. That’s what I like with photography. It helps me to understand myself and the past through the present.

» Patrick Zachmann’s Magnum Portfolio

Peter Marlow


Copyright: Peter Marlow

What advice would you give young photographers?
Be yourself, get up early, and don’t try too hard, as whatever is trying to come out will come eventually without any effort, learn to trust your instincts and don’t think about what others will think or about the process too much. Work hard but enjoy it.

» Peter Marlow’s Magnum Portfolio

Steve McCurry


Copyright: Steve McCurry

What advice would you give young photographers?
If you want to be a photographer, you have to photograph. If you look at the photographers’ work you admire, you will find that they have found a particular place or subject, and then have dug deep into it, and carved out something that is special. That takes a lot of dedication, passion, and work.

» Steve McCurry’s Magnum Portfolio

Stuart Franklin


Copyright: Stuart Franklin

What advice would you give young photographers?
Follow your heart and never give up.

» Stuart Franklin’s Magnum Portfolio

Susan Meiselas


Copyright: Susan Meiselas

What advice would you give young photographers?

Dig in and follow your instincts and trust your curiosity

» Susan Meiselas’s Magnum Portfolio

Thomas Dworzak


Copyright: Thomas Dworzak

What advice would you give young photographers?
Try live something intense, at home, abroad… it does not matter. It has to be passionate. And once you know the basics forget about photography.

» Thomas Dworzaks’s Magnum Portfolio

Thomas Hoepker


Copyright: Thomas Hoepker

What advice would you give young photographers?
Avoid all photo schools and courses. Most will give you lofty ideas and twist your mind in one direction. Find your own way to photography, nobody will ask you later if you have a diploma. Visit as many museums as you possibly can. The images you see (painted, drawn, etched or photographed) will stay with you for the rest of your life. They will help you to discover good pictures in real life. Suppress any silly ambitions of becoming a great artist. Being a good photographer is difficult enough.

» Thomas Hoepker’s Magnum Portfolio

Trent Parke


Copyright: Trent Parke

What advice would you give young photographers?
To photograph what is closest to you and the things that you enjoy and have an interest in. Make the whole process as fun and least difficult as possible.

Regarding this document, You can download the PDF here.

Credit: Magnum Photos Blog

via Bill Reeves

Books by Magnum

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Magnum Contact Sheets” is a book you need to have in your library. It shows the behind-the-scenes behind some of the greatest photos ever taken in history. You can also read my in-depth article on the book here: 10 Things Street Photographers Can Learn From Magnum Contact Sheets

2. Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World

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In this book, 61 Magnum photographers write a 2-page story about themselves, on their inspiration on taking images, how they work, and some of the storeis behind their best shots. A must-have if you want to keep learning!


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  • http://twitter.com/CoroPhoto Courtney Roberson

    Wow. Great post, and thank you

  • Guest

    Sorry for being such a party pooper here, but I hope you have this cleared regarding copyrights. There’s a limit to how much you can “quote”/reproduce before you’ve basically just copied/stolen the whole article. Then there’s the pictures… no mentioning of copyrights/owner. Just a link to the original article would have been a better way to do this. Just saying.

    • Guest

      I realise the part that says “copied/stolen” came out a bit wrong. I’m not saying you’ve necessarily stolen this, but the way it’s presented it does feel like copy/paste and not something that was done by a guest contributor for your blog.

      • William Reeves

        I think Eric is fine here. He does state that this was a blog post, gives a link to the blog post, and at the end does state Credit: Magnum Photos Blog, with another link to it. Might want to add a copyright notice for the images though, even though I feel it is implied in that each image is with its respective creator. Better safe than sorry!

  • Emily Adams

    Thanks a lot for this brilliant post! shared it with a great pleasure

  • William Reeves

    I would encourage everyone to download the PDF, or at the least go t the original blog post to get the rest of the information. Each of the photographers also details how they first became excited about photography…which has some interesting stories! Thanks again to Eric for continuing to share amazing bits of information!

  • http://zenowatson.com/ Zeno Watson

    A great inspirational post!

    Thanks Magnum and Eric.


  • http://www.citysnaps.net/ Brad

    Honestly, it’s over the top pulling so much of the Magnum article, and copyrighted images for the purpose of creating a blog post. Simply adding copyright notices does not give the right to appropriate copyrighted material without first securing permission and/or a license for the images and so much text. I highly doubt they fall under Creative Commons. It really does comes off as a ripoff.

    A simple link to the Magnum article would have sufficient and appropriate…

    • William Reeves

      As there have been multiple concerns raised about the copyright issue, I contacted Alec Soth and Magnum and they are fine with the blog post as is (in fact, that was prior to the addition of the copyright notices). Therefore this is no longer an issue, and I hope people can get back to enjoying the article and the information in it. It was designed from the outset to be something shared and downloaded.

      I would also disagree with the notion that what Eric did is a “ripoff”. The post from the outset clearly stated where the content came from and who was the owner of it, and linked to them on multiple occasions. He never claimed it to be his, nor did he claim to have any authorship to it in any way. Eric is incredibly passionate about sharing information and that was all he tried to do.

      In any case, copyright issue is no longer an issue, and Eric is in the clear.

    • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

      Thanks for the input Brad. I will try to get more explicit consent before re-publishing articles– and I do see your point about copyright. Fortunately Alec was down with it.

      BTW sorry for the delay on the Tenderloin book– will publish soon! :)

      • http://www.citysnaps.net/ Brad

        Eric, I apologize for coming out so strong. I was not aware (via William up above) that permission was secured ahead of time from Magnum, and from the copyright holders of the images.

        I think what a lot of people don’t understand, including (especially?) bloggers, is the extent of the “fair use” exception to copyright law. Fine for excerpting small portions of text for comment and discussion, a few small images, for literary review, classroom discussion, journalistic endeavors, etc. But beyond that… Actually, that subject in itself, and what constitutes fair use, would be a great blog-worthy story, as it’s so topical.

        Because the internet makes it’s so easy, many photographers have had their images “borrowed” without first being asked. Some users assume that images are in the public domain simply because they’re on the net, or they somehow fall under “Creative Commons” and free for the using. Or that simple attribution makes it OK (its not). It’s a huge concern with many photographers. And there have been actions taken as a result. My belief is that most people will say yes to using an image if asked – I do.

        Again, I apologize for not understanding what was done, and just came out swinging.

        • http://erickimphotography.com/blog Eric Kim

          No offense taken Brad. I appreciate your thought and concern– it means a lot to me.

          You bring up a lot of fantastic points. I need to make sure to be a lot more cognizant of these copyrights as you have mentioned.


      • Américo Dias

        Hello Eric,

        Thank you for this post and for all the other posts you have written. I really like your work and this blog is a good reference for me. :)

        I’m thinking in write some articles about great masters of photography in my blog (in Portuguese). I want to write about their live and their work… but I don’t know if I can do that without violating the copyright. If I can’t, it doesn’t make sense to write those articles.

        Did you ask for permission before writing this post? What is your advice as photographer and as blogger?


  • http://georgiemathew.wordpress.com/ Georgie Mathew

    Thanks for the very thoughtful post, Eric!!

  • Henry B

    I sometimes feel that lately street photography has been getting exploited. People using the art form, better yet- the street art form as a tool to gain fame and profit from. Can you imagine if street photography became a popular trend on the streets?

    Alex Wells – “Photograph because you love doing it, because you absolutely have to do it, because the chief reward is going to be the process of doing it. Other rewards — recognition, financial remuneration — come to so few and are so fleeting. And even if you are somewhat successful, there will almost inevitably be stretches of time when you will be ignored, have little income, or — often — both. Certainly there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society. Take photography on as a passion, not a career.”

    Street artists call Banksy a sell out because he’s doing graffiti for galleries and pop culture now. I hope street photography doesn’t become common and cliche as stencil art to graffiti. I’ve even seen “how to videos” on street photog on youtube!

    • Monkeysan

      This kind of elitist proprietary, madding crowd coming to pee in your purist swimming pool sentiment is what actually kills creative genre/movements, not the fact that the genre begins to inspire an increasingly wider circle of people to pursue creativity and expression.


      • Bill Bradley

        Totally 100% agree. Elitist old men dominated crap. All white and all privledged.

    • DannyG

      Who cares, do your own thing and let the ducks waddle around.

  • Jose Romo Martin

    Excelente, simplemente maravilloso

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35600961 Ebony Williams

    Hey guys , I really enjoyed this article , and needed to hear some of that stuff and rehear it. Thanks for sharing !

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  • Gerrityphoto

    All of these comments come from the heart where photographs are born! Thank you all…….

  • http://twitter.com/ChristianDlcruz Richard Kordts

    Never mind copyright, I just think it’s kinda cheap and lazy to post this kind of stuff on a blog. Just link to the original article.

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  • Arti Sheopuri

    constantine manos advice was the most inspirational

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  • Tol

    After-the-fact permission or not, this is lazy and the kind of ‘photocopy’ opportunism photographers should be railing against, not participating in. I’ve taken this site off my rounds. Disappointing.

  • http://twitter.com/TBPHOTO92 Tommy Burnett

    Very inspirational post! Shared on my twitter page. Most of the artists seemed to give the same general advice: Photograph a subject that means something to you personally, that you are interested in and work on it by choice instead of demand! Find your own style, own way of portraying the world. Everyone has a view and opinion on life, which comes from experience and individuality. Express that individuality in your photography. Aim not to be the best, but to be different – unique.

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  • http://adisuryadiphoto.tumblr.com/ Adi Suryadi

    Thanks for sharing this… Very inspiring

  • Tedknapinsky

    What advice would you give me for a young street photographer. I am interested in photographing rock clubs, bands, interesting cities and anything that is moving ?

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  • Ted knapinsky

    I like Susan Meiselas photo on the female carnival dancer.

  • http://nidulario.wordpress.com/ Ramiro

    Great article Eric, I’ve just discovered you blog and it has really inspired me. I’m really surprised with all the copyright issue. Information is meant to be sheared, I think some are afraid of loosing something, they just don´t realize that now a days information is a free flow, and you cant keep it for yourself.
    Thanks again for shearing.

  • bala ck

    thanks for this fine collection.

  • http://www.yomadic.com/ Nate Robert

    An amazing collection of photography advice, street photography or other.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/C54V4U4Z3EHH7TDKD2OTQDWQFA T

    to this list I would only add:

    Go see something that just blows you away, photographically speaking. Humility is good, it keeps you honest with yourself. Don’t ‘fall in love’ with your own work, even if certain examples of it seem worthy… it is, after all, work… but DO fall in love with the act of working at it, of trying to obtain something in the process which explains perfectly, or looks wonderful, or transcends – and for that, a sense of humility and striving will indeed make your work better, perhaps better than you imagine.

  • Peter

    Thanks for posting this. Good wisdom here.

    These couple of questions go out to Eric or anyone who wants to add their two cents.

    I may have been misinterpreting Alex Webb’s advice when he states, ” Certainly there are many other easier ways to make a living in this society. Take photography on as a passion, not a career.”

    He seems like he is discouraging aspiring photographers who love expressing their art through photography as making it their main vocation, yet at the same time–I think I am interpreting his advice clearly as I am writing writing the question out right now, that photography can still be a main passion even if you are not making any money with it. Ok it makes sense now. Nevertheless, what would be the dangers of going all in, in trying hard to make photography your main vocation, and at the same time having a love for photography? Also, what did others get from reading this piece of advice, I felt it discouraging, but maybe encouragement dressed in disguise?

    Yet I could understand Webb because we have a very pragmatic way of looking at our passions (depending on ones culture)–are passions is always trying to make a passion and a heavy interest equal monetary success, once the pragmatism is eliminated photography as an art expressing ones ideas becomes just that and not tied to making ends meet. Yet sometimes as Westerners it is hard not to think that way because pragmatism is in our blood streams, if it doesn’t work it is useless in this case, if it doesn’t bring in the dough, I should let it go. But I understand the tension, there are those who love expressing through photography and that love for the medium to become a vocation (like loving a girl and then marrying) yet at the same time needing to make ends meet.

    Second, in my own personal take their nothing new, we all do not start on a clean slate artistically, no matter how we try to be original we subconsciously were influenced not only by other photographer’s works, but by moving stills, by literature, books, other disciplines etc, in the end we are shaped by other people–and I think that is one of the beauties in life.

    I noticed that many of the Magnum photographers advised the aspiring photographer to study other photographers and their work, but there were a couple of the photographers, such as Alex Majoli, that stated other wise but did not give any reason or provide any context for this.

    There seems to be a tension between looking at other works and therefore copying them and not developing ones own style, and looking at works to be inspired, influenced, and shaped by other photographers works. I don’t understand other reasons why people are afraid of work, if one loves expressing their art and ideas in photography wouldn’t one love photos from others as well. I am sure writers of fiction and non-fiction read the work of others no? Hence, the footnotes in non-fiction works.

    Eric, also I am interested in knowing your goals. Do you plan to work for magnum in the near future? Or create books?

    Thanks in advance,

    PS sorry for the long winded comments and answers, just thinking out loud.

    • Bill Bradley

      Magnum photographers are and always have been elitist and condesending. What else is new. They act and portray themselves as if they are the only ones who “get it”. I don’t know why people continue to idolize them as if they are gods. Let’s be real they sold their archives to Dell as soon as they got the money they wanted. Ohhhh, the big bad corporations, as they profess, please they sold out as soon as they had the chance. They hire interns to do all the hard work in the office and treat them like garbage and expect them to be honored to work in a filthy office and dig through dust and mold and live with ten roomates while they travel the world being oh so precious and special. Also I might add they just sold all their licensing rights to Trunk archive with no restrictions on usage. Yes, HCB had principles, but remember he was from an elitist wealthy background and never really had to work for a living. I wish people would realize they are not freakin’ gods and treat employees and everyone else like garbage. I have known plenty of ppl who have worked for these photographers only to be stiffed and ignored when they ask for anything in return. GET OVER IT…these photograpers are selfish ego maniacs who only care about their own selves. I am sure you wil all think I am bitter, but I just hate to see false idol worship. They are not curing cancer, giving their lives to charity or good people overall. Really, truly..they care about themselves first and foremost…and of course money.

  • Peter

    So my question is to the second topic, how does one solve that tension between other photographer’s works? And why is there that tension? And where does it come from? Are people afraid of not being original and hence not being hired? Or they don’t study others works because they don’t want to lose the sense of self worth? I don’t get it fully where this tension is coming from. Could anyone, Eric shed some light on this?

    As I mentioned in other disciplines and even other art forms the good to great work of others were not to be ignored but learned from. Even Henri Cartier-Bresson had huge influences from other photographers, check his documentaries on youtube, he mentions the photographers that went before him.

    And on a side note, was anyone irritated when Charlie Rose was interviewing Cartier-Bresson, it is as if Charlie Rose was trying to had some sort of aura (which he deserves) to HCB especially on the questions of geometry in photos, clearly HCB stating clearly and confidently that geometrical eye has to be cultivated (which seem right on comparing HCB’s early work (less geometric) with his later work (geometric) and then Charlie Rose took one of HCB’s quotes out of context by pushing another question making HCB contradict himself. The interview is on youtube in the beginning of the interview.

    Eric you stated in a workshop on one of the clips on this site that the most important thing in a photograph was content and composition. I know you are a HCB fan, HCB would say geometry is the foundation and light is the perfume (well later on in HCB’s career he didn’t have to worry about post processing because he had others doing it for him, according to his own words in a documentary on youtube), but I was wondering why you didn’t say geometry?

    • Bill Bradley

      Oh brother, you a terrible bore. You must be fun at parties. Lighten up you lazy hipster.

  • Peter

    Sorry for this long rant, and why does everyone say that they started taking photographs at the age of 10? HCB said that and I’ve heard that answer so many times, do they do this for credibility? As if the skill of the photographer is dictated by when someone first picked up the camera. Yes, everyone is a Doogie Howser. I took photos sense I was two years old, my mom put a disposable camera in my hand–and when I first touched the camera at the age of 2, I said to myself, “I was destined to be a photographer.” No, I don’t think it works out that way all the time. In my opinion the better question is “When did you get passionate about photography.” It doesn’t matter when someone held their first camera, but when they got passionate about the medium. Especially those born after a certain time had access tacitly to the medium whether through moving and regular stills, looking through magazines, painting comic books. I believe all of us in the Western culture grew up with a medium connected to photography, so why do people make an effort to answer the question at the earliest age possible, to develop some sort of credibility with photography? Sorry for the rant, this has been on my mind after watching a few documentaries, youtubing it for hours on photography, and reading posts on the medium.

    An American photographer I respect after watching his documentary was Gary Winogrand, not only are his photos fantastic, he was real and honest, and humble, encouraging are his connection with failure and taking photos. Rest in peace Winogrand, thanks for being real.

    • tintu

      relax your getting too rambunctious with your paragraphs your like a plastic bag

  • Peter

    And on another note Rene Burri stuff is crazy. I got his book “Rene Burri Photographs” check that book out. He was close with HCB and was influenced by him, but in the book it stated that he had to detach himself from HCB to find his own creativity, yet you could see how RB was heavily influenced by HCB in his photos and their frames yet IMHO Burri’s photos man they jump out the page.

    A good photograph book to me is flipping to any page, and bam a very good or great picture, and that “Rene Burri Photographs. Get that if you guys and gals don’t own it. Internet photos of the work do not do it justice.

    That book Eric needs to be in your book section on your blog.

    If HCB is Michael Jordan, Burri is Kobe Bryant.

  • Peter

    I just don’t understand why RB was denied to enter Magnum at that age, he is a Doogie Howser.

  • Peter

    Actually RB wasn’t a Doogie Howser, he learned from the best, HCB. It was cultivated.

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  • Sanchez

    It seems being a white male (with a very few exceptions) is as much a prerequisite to being a magnum photographer as shooting in black and white. No interest. I personally think leica and magnum are past their expiration dates, they’ve become trendy lifestyle choices (especially leica with their supercool soho/Paris/LA stores and phonies like Adam Marelli blogging about camera cases and tshirts) that have nothing to do with art and the here and now. Just a bunch of cheesy grand dads the times have passed by, or youngns looking for free gear like a bunch of skateboarders hoping for a sponsor. Establishment. Their glory days long passed. Screw leica and magnum, seriously. Their time has passed. Revolt. Let them die or beat them to death with your mobile cameras. The leica magnum worship must end. Build your own legacy. Don’t buy into artifice or fossilized art.

    That being said I respect the past masters and love your blog.

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