Magnum releases apology for not showing "enough care" for vulnerable subjects

(Image credit: Magnum)

Magnum has recently issued a public apology for issues that arose in August 2020 regarding images in Magnum's archives. Previous Magnum photojournalist David Alan Harvey (who has since been suspended from the agency) was using Magnum's platform to sell images of young women (possibly teenagers) who were reportedly working as prostitutes in Bangkok.

As reported by PetaPixel, at least one of these images found on Magnum's archives used tags such as "Prostitution", "Teenage girl" and "13 to 18 years". If the subject of this particular image was indeed underage, then the photo would be classified as an image of child exploitation.

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Magnum has apologized for publishing its images without the proper context, stating: "In making sensitive work openly available on the internet we haven’t shown enough care for the vulnerable people in the images, and in failing to give the right context to images, we have in some instances misrepresented photographers’ work. Not only has this caused offense to members of the public, it may also have had implications for some of the people shown in the images."

Magnum went on to say that the images of children have been "legally cleared by the Internet Watch Foundation", but that they are working hard to "full contextualize work, add appropriate warning information, and put the right levels of access restrictions in place". Magnum also lists a variety of other measures that have been put in place to help prevent similar issues from happening in the future, including an independent child safeguarding review and the start of a new Code of Ethics.

PetaPixel points out that only 16% of Magnum's total photo archive has been evaluated so far, with the process expected to be completed in the second half of 2021. 

Many of Magnum's other self-imposed goals and measures are due to come to fruition at various points throughout the year as well. However, measures such as a public code of conduct have already been completed and published.

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.