curated theme

On Assignment

Navigating the Media Industry

For many photographers today, working on commissions and assignments within the media industry helps to build and contribute to a sustainable career. How can an artist navigate the territory between their own practice and the media industry at large? We take a look at topics such as roles and responsibilities, power and ethical dilemmas around commissions in the industry.
Archive of Public Protests © Rafal Milach / Magnum Photos.
Urmia salt lake, Iran © Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos.

Coming soon:

On Assignment e-book

On Assignment continues as an e-book that puts together a summary of the talks and workshops, ready to use for your reference or inspiration into the themes.

Talk: Navigating the Media Industry - Media Perspective

Video still - navigating the media industry - media perspective
1:36:23

In this first talk, the challenges and ethical dilemmas of working on assignments - as well as broader systemic issues - are explored through two vantage points: the individual and the photo-media industry at large.

Moderation by Aaron Schuman (photographer, writer, teacher). Speakers include Laura Summerton (Photography Manager, WaterAid), David Barreda (Diversify Photo & Senior Photo Editor National Geographic), Emma Bowkett (Director of Photography Financial Times Magazine) and Alex Majoli (Magnum, Cesura).

Online exhibition:

On Social Documentary Photography

From the series Tell The Trees To Smile © Myriam Boulos.

How can documentary photography help create awareness or help us understand certain environments, communities, cultures or even the medium itself?

We take a look at projects by three artists that explore how photography can create artistic portrayels of social societies. 

What is the role of the photographer on assignment?

Video still - navigating the media industry - photographers perspective
1:30:40

In this second talk in the series, we sit down with a selection of photographers who are at different stages in their careers. They consider these ethical dilemmas in relation to the role of the photographer on assignment today, as well as the responsibilities of the individual when working on commissions.

Moderation by Aaron Schuman (photographer, writer, teacher). Speakers include Myriam Boulos (photographer, Lebanon), Bieke Depoorter (photographer, Belgium) and Rahim Fortune (photographer, United States).

In Practice: Resources for Photographers on Assignment

Who has the power to decide which photographers get particular resources and opportunities? What are the ethical dilemmas around commissions and assignments? We highlight a few industry resources that provide practical advice for photographers who are trying to navigate the territory between their own practice and the media industry at large.

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Michael, Michael at home, Portland, Oregon, USA, May, 2015 © Bieke Depoorter . Magnum Photos

Come and see

Open for Business

Magnum Photographers on Commission

For over 75 years, the photographers of Magnum Photos have not only created photographic icons on both major events and hidden stories but have simultaneously worked on commission.

On view at Foam in Amsterdam from 27 May until 7 Sep 2022.

learn more
Gucci makeup fashion shoot, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, 2019 © Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos.

Open for Business - Magnum Photographers on Commission has been developed in collaboration with Magnum Photos Paris and the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation. It is curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, and Mirjam Kooiman, curator of Foam.

Foam is supported by de VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the City of Amsterdam.

In 2022 Foam receives additional support from the Mondriaan Fund and receives a contribution through the Mondriaan Fund from the Ministerie van OCW.

Urmia salt lake, Iran © Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos.jpg

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On Assignment