The legendary photography agency Magnum wins the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord

Founded in 1947 by Robert Capa and Cartier-Bresson, among others, it is one of the leaders of world photojournalism. At the helm, in the presidency, is the Spanish Cristina de Middel

There were five photographers – Robert Capa, David Chim Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, Bill Vandivert, Maria Eisner and Rita Vandivert. Each one contributed a capital of 400 dollars. And with that money they created one of the first photography cooperatives in the world. Magnum started rolling in 1947. It soon established itself as the place for the best photojournalism, promoting documentation and reporting, adding the best, the best. Calling for committed, truthful journalism, endowed with rigor. The world of images inaugurated an expedition in Magnum that is still ongoing. It continues to be the legendary agency and has the best reporters, but not only that: in the last decade it has widened its channel and artists, slowly, have also entered this Vatican of photography, now blessed with the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord 2024.

At the head of the agency is the Spanish Cristina de Middel (Alicante, 1975). She has been president since 2016. A few hours ago, in the boarding row of a plane bound for New York, she responded with a voice audio to EL MUNDO: “This award is an honor for Magnum. And more in a moment in which photography, the press and communication at a global level are so touched by extremism, due to the new technological challenges that threaten photography so much. At the agency we are very satisfied to see, once again, how institutions such as the Princess of Asturias Foundation recognize Magnum’s efforts in so many years of activity. And for me, as a Spaniard, it makes me especially excited.. On the day of the award ceremony, many of the agency’s photographers will be in Oviedo to receive this award.”

Considered the best photography agency in the world, Magnum professionals have left some of the most revealing images of the second half of the 20th century around the world. Where there is conflict there is a magnum. Where there are people, a magnum. Where no one goes, a camera appears magnum. From the beginning, photojournalists (Capa) coexisted with artists (Cartier-Bresson). And that cheer up has not been lost. In 2024, Cristina García Rodero (the first Spaniard to join this team) and the war photojournalist Thomas Dworzak coexist equally. The vibrant and elusive Antoine D’Agata is the same as Steve McCurry. The photographer’s paradise has almost 50 tenants.

The Spanish photographer and member of Magnum, Cristina García Rodero, in Madrid.

Of those chosen, the youngest is Nanna Hetimann, a 30-year-old Russian-German, with purely documentary work. And then the Lebanese Myriam Boulos, 32, with a very contemporary language from a gender perspective. The challenges of Artificial Intelligence, hoaxes or fake news and other threats to truth and clarity are among Magnum’s concerns. And on his roadmap. And in his work sessions in collaboration with other agencies. “Everything needs to be done and it is a dangerous moment”, said de Middel in an interview a year ago in this newspaper. “We see it with some hoaxes that reach the media and spread without problem. This is like giving a machine gun to a monkey. If they continually sneak it in with manipulated photographs in classic format, imagine the possibilities of AI.”

The presence in Africa and Latin America is also one of the points to be reinforced within its strategy of being a global telescope and a total microscope. This is the second time that Magnum has taken part in the Princess of Asturias awards. American photographer James Nachtwey received the award in the Communication and Humanities category in 2016. Nachtwey is one of the agency’s coastal beacons. It has been the eye of wars and fierce conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kosovo, Romania… And it represents that other side of Magnum: that of someone who enters the worst of the places to tell those outside what happens inside. Because that’s the agency’s job. Not only that one, but mainly that one: search and say that the world is not always well made. Almost never, exactly.

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