Need Advice? Here are Some Words from Magnum Photographers

Magnum and LensCulture have teamed up to give emerging photographers sage advice.

Magnum Photos and LensCulture are partnering to share some encouraging words and inspiration to photographers of all ranges. Magnum Photos is celebrating 70 years of fearless photography that has broadened our understanding of the world. To honor this deep tradition of photographing the world with a dynamic representation of voices, Magnum and LensCulture want to give back to the community of photographers, namely emerging photographers. They have created a beautiful guide full of interesting advice and tips.

Below is a highlight of the guide that is available as a PDF


“Give it all you’ve got for at least five years and then decide if you’ve 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

“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

Vision & Voice

“I didn’t get truly excited about photography until my sophomore year of high school (although I actually learned photographic technique from my father much earlier). I had played around with making little (extremely bad) movies, using friends and family as actors, and rapidly realized that I did not want to work with lots of other people. I wanted to work alone. I began photographing in the streets of Brattleboro, Vermont, near the school that I attended, and in Boston, where my family lived. I discovered photographing in the street. I’ve been doing it ever since.” –Alex Webb

“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 as least difficult as possible.” –Trent Park


“I first got excited by photography the first day I picked up a camera. However this was not until I was 20 years of age. I suddenly realized that I had an excuse to be anywhere and gaze in wonderment; the camera gave me something to hide my shyness behind. The act of pointing a camera at another human being is daunting. However, clarifying what is unfolding in front of one can give one immense pleasure. I have had a blissful life.” -David Hurn

“Find something you are passionate about and shoot your way through this obsession with elegance and you will have a potentially great project.” -Martin Parr


“Stick to one project for a long time. And keep working on it through many stages of learning, even if it might feel finished. It’s 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

“If you want to be a photographer, you have to photograph. If you look at photographers’ work you admire, you will see 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


“Throw yourself off a cliff, figuratively speaking. 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

“Make your own mistakes. You need to have your own experience and nobody else can really tell you what to do.” —Sohrab Hura

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