Magnum Photographers Share Their Most Intimate Photos


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Magnum Photographers Share Their Most Intimate Photos

Some exclusive images from "Up Close & Personal: The Most Intimate Photos from Magnum."

We love Magnum Photos. Look: we even have a column called "VICE Loves Magnum" (which contains 20 different galleries of some of our favorite work from the world-famous photo agency) to really nail the point home.

So when we were offered some exclusive images from their new online project, we said, "yes please." For "Up Close & Personal: The Most Intimate Photos from Magnum," over 60 of the agency's photographers and artists were asked to interpret the theme of intimacy and pick an image from their archive that exemplified that interpretation. From yesterday until this Friday, November 13, you can buy every chosen print, signed or estate stamped, for just £66 [$100] each.


Below is a selection of some of the work on sale, with explanations from the photographers as to why they picked the photo they chose.

Richard Kalvar

"What could be more intimate than a Tokyo sex school (whatever that is), particularly lesson 437B, the 'Sucking of the Toes'? I spent five months trying to become intimate with Japan, but even when I got very close, I remained on the outside. The glass wall of language separated us. I could see inside, but not really understand what I was seeing.

It might have been better if I knew what was going on here. Or maybe not, because in my ignorant curiosity, I had to look harder and let my imagination play. So we became more intimate, in an unexpected way."

Thomas Hoepker

"I took the picture in the fall of 1983, at sunset at the old docks in New Jersey with a view towards the World Trade towers in New York City. I had heard that there was a traditional Lovers' Lane, a meeting place of young people in their cars, bringing booze and sometimes drugs. The sun was setting and the towers across the river were glowing before it became too dark to take more pictures."

Nikos Economopoulos

"Some years ago I was tracing aging storytellers in the Aegean islands. I came across this 90-year-old woman in Karpathos, one of the remotest and most pristine places in the country. She welcomed me into her modest abode with immense generosity and trust. Among her few belongings, there was this bird; a toy that someone had left there. It stuck out, as it was perhaps the only thing that didn't have some very specific use, so I asked her [about it]. Her eyes lit with joy. She asked me to follow her outside, to show me all the things her bird could do in plain daylight. And there she stood, on the little terrace overlooking the vast sea, playing with her bird as innocent and blissful as a small child."


David Alan Harvey

"Intimacy can manifest itself in a photograph literally, showing actual intimacy between people, or be implied in the image through an act of deep internalization. A bit more mysterious… a tease, maybe?

For years as a photojournalist, my job was to be didactic, but now my tack has changed: I still believe in bearing witness, yet I am way more inclined to leave my audience with unanswered questions. Why does everything need to be resolved? Isn't there great pleasure in imagining what might be happening?

I am too involved, too much a part of the story, for my work to still be considered photojournalism. Yet perhaps the new work may still fall into some interpretations of documentary. I don't care. I'm simply on a river that's taking me wherever it goes."

Constantine Manos

"This photograph, which might be entitled 'First Encounter,' was made on Main Street in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1988 during the annual Bike Week—when thousands of bikers pour into the small town to ride their bikes around and have fun. Main Street was lined with parked motorcycles, their owners perched on the seats watching the parade of roaring bikes go by. Looking for pictures, I had my eye on this female biker with a beautiful body when a male with a beautiful body approached her. Cutting out the faces, I concentrated on the handshake: the first encounter of two bodies. When I left, they were engrossed in deep conversation. Who knows what happened after that?"


Burt Glinn

"Chicago, Illinois: Two young protestors rest outside the convention hall during the turbulent 1968 Democratic Convention. Burt Glinn was a staunch Democrat from a left wing family. He covered the 1948 Republican and Democratic conventions when he was barely out of college at Harvard University.

Also, by this time, he had already completed two years of service in the Army. Burt captured many fiery, passionate, and unselfconscious moments on the convention floor with the delegates. I was very sorry that he didn't live to see Barack Obama get elected in 2008. Burt was a big believer in Barack's socially liberal and democratic sensibilities."

– Elena Glinn, widow of Burt Glinn

Cornell Capa

"Many photographers find that to make a living they have to shoot pictures as 'professionals,' producing work classified as commercial, about which they don't really care beyond the obvious; they pursue their personal work, the photographs that engage their feelings and that provide satisfaction 'on the side.'

I have been very fortunate. The photo essays I shot for Life and other magazines not only gave me a steady, albeit modest, income, but also were my personal work. For me there was never any distinction between commercial and personal. I worked on stories that interested and excited me, stories about which I had strong feelings and high hopes, and I directed all my talents and energies into that work."

— From Cornell Capa. Peter Fetterman Gallery, 2002


Antoine D'Agata

"Beyond the fundamental hypocrisy of photographic production that feeds on human misery with the pretense of disseminating information or raising awareness, the proliferation of compassionate iconography neutralizes discernment, tames brutal instincts, and induces the risk of safe intimacy and deceit under the autocratic reign of appearance.

I choose to adopt hacker strategies, forging a secret, illicit, immoral language, deconstructing protocols built by the hegemonic ideology with the explicit intention of contaminating, perverting, and destroying it. The act of photographing accepts no compromise: It involves pushing the physical limits of life and possessing the world through absorption and adsorption.

Photography is a source of disorder because it carries within itself the seeds of action, unleashing the rage that makes bearable fear and desire. To be, to love, to think, and to suffer are no longer enough. One has to be a saint or a mad man."

Tim Hetherington

"It's hard to imagine Tim not making an intimate picture. He approached everyone with curiosity and an open heart that few could resist. He left behind a world of people who knew him as a friend, however brief their encounter. Tim met Jonathan on the streets of Kinshasa in 2001. Jonathan had been living on the streets for five years, having been bullied by his stepmother. Tim's notes tell us that his dream was to learn to write and to be a good father."

— Stephen Mayes, Tim Hetherington Trust

Carolyn Drake

"I find that intimacy comes from conversation, and on good days that may lead to an unexpected moment. After spending three days tracking bears, wolves, and insects with Çagan Sekercioglu, I ended up at his bird banding station in a village near the Armenian border. Çagan is an ornithologist and conservation biologist. The challenge was to make a portrait of him together with the tiny birds his team was banding—people and birds exist on different scales. At his suggestion, borne out of the time we spent together, I stood outside of his trailer while he released the tiny birds from inside."

See more from "Up Close & Personal: The Most Intimate Photos from Magnum" and buy the prints here.