11 Magnum photographers who changed the world

Images are some of the most important tools available when it comes to delivering powerful messages to the masses. Photography can invoke stronger emotions than words, inspiring and influencing generations, or changing the perspectives of entire societies.

Here we pay tribute to eleven Magnum photographers who, often putting life and limb on the line, have done no less than change the world with the images they have taken.

11 Magnum photographers who changed the world: Henri Cartier-Bresson

1. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Nationality: French
Quote: “To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life.”

Together with Robert Capa, George Rodger, David ‘Chim’ Seymour and William Vandivert, Cartier-Bresson founded Magnum Photos. But his other great contribution to photography was to coin the term ‘The Decisive Moment’; a concept that has had a profound influence on street and reportage photography ever since. As such, Cartier-Bresson is widely considered to be the father of modern photojournalism.

In an interview with Washington Post in 1957, he described the notion of the decisive moment: “Photography is not like a painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.”


11 Magnum photographers who changed the world: Robert Capa

2. Robert Capa
Nationality: Hungarian
Quote: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

Robert Capa was a co-founder of Magnum Photos and is celebrated as having redefined wartime photojournalism. Perhaps his most notable contribution to photography – and to the world – was to photograph D-Day as the American troops landed on Omaha Beach. Tragically, however, only 11 of his 106 images survived a photo lab accident back in London. These few pictures became the images that told the story of D-Day, and went on to influence Steven Spielberg when directing the blockbuster Saving Private Ryan.


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