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How globetrotting Magnum photographers capture the idea of “home”

Alex Webb/Magnum Photos
Mayo Beach, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, 2017.
  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Magnum is a legendary photo agency, synonymous with globe-trotting photojournalists who have documented conflict and cultures around the world. But for a new project in collaboration with camera maker Fujifilm, a group of its photographers were tasked a simpler assignment: Interpret the theme of “home.”

Focusing on one’s immediate family or place of birth might seem easy for some of the world’s most celebrated photographers, but Magnum cultural director Pauline Vermare described it as a challenge—and one that likely resonates with frequent travelers of all professions.

“Magnum photographers have predominantly been looking into the lives of others–and seldom into their own,” she said. “For these uprooted, avid travelers, accustomed to exile and a permanent state of inbetweenness, this project constituted a form of therapy.”

The results—from photographers whose work ranges from grim depictions of war to witty observation of everyday lifewere remarkably different, she says.

Some chose a distanced visual approach: photographing the geographical space of their home from above or from afar, through majestic landscapes, walking through their streets in a Rousseau-like spiritual journey, or embarking on a deeply existential road trip. Others chose to focus on their family, past and future generations, taking this opportunity to draw a portrait of their babies as they were being born, of their aging parents, or their teenage children about to leave the nest.

The collaborative project, all shot on Fuji’s X-Series cameras, resulted in a book and traveling exhibition, which opens in New York this week. Here’s a selection of images from the show, with Vermare’s notes on how they were created:

Chien-Chi Chang

Chien-Chi Chang returned to New York’s Chinatown, wherehe lived for many years and still considers home. He photographed the streets, the buildings, and mostly, the people of Chinatown, as a form of self-portrait.

Chien-Chi Chang/Magnum Photos
The Chen family can not wait to check messages, play video games or look at mirror right after a day out in Chinatown, New York City.

David Alan Harvey

David Alan Harvey chose to spend time in Northern Carolina, his happy place, where he now lives–close to where he grew up. Surfers, toddlers, teenagers, wilderness … His essay is a song to freedom and a celebration of life.

David Allen Harvey/Magnum Photos
After watching the solar eclipse (90% totality) atop Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

Jonas Bendiksen

Jonas Bendiksen chronicled the life of his family in Norway as they were expecting–and later welcoming –their second child.

Jonas Bendiksen / Magnum Photos
Norway, 2018.

Gueorgui Pinkhassov

Using light and colors like a painter would, Gueorgui Pinkassov composed a subtle and poetic documentation of his Moscow apartment.

Gueorgui Pinkhassov/Magnum Photos
The photographer’s home. 2017.

Thomas Dworzak

Thomas Dworzak chose to document each of his four homes, because they are all a visceral part of who he is: The one he rejected, Germany; the one that rejected his father, Czechoslovakia; and the two that he adopted later in life: Georgia and Iran.

Thomas Dworzak/Magnum Photos
My father, Ernst Dworzak, walks the fields above the village where his family had a farm until 1946. Hrabišin, Moravia, Czech Republic, 2017

Elliott Erwit

Elliott Erwitt documented both his Manhattan and Long Island homes. His delightful, witty series include still-lives of humor-filled memorabilia; portraits of his grand-children; self-portraits, including a couple of proper “selfies;” and, naturally, a few loving portraits of his dog

Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
Smoking Fish and Canelo in the living room, New York City, 2017

Alex Webb

A peaceful return to childhood: For this project, Alex Webb chose to photograph the beaches of his beloved Wellfleet, in Cape Cod, where he spent his summers as a child and as a teenager.

Alex Webb/Magnum Photos
Mayo Beach, Wellfleet, Massachusetts, 2017.

Olivia Arthur

Olivia Arthur was expecting her second daughter when she was invited to take part in this project. Her series of intimate black and white portraits, a delicate and timeless family album, offers a beautiful insight into the emotional complexity of motherhood, as well as sisterhood.

Olivia Arthur/Magnum Photos
Family life, London, England.

Alec Soth

To best portray “home,” Alec Soth took on to walking eight miles to work. His series beautifully translates the feeling of a walk, that is the spirit of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Reveries of a Solitary Walker, and composes a delicate and loving tribute to Minnesota, the place where he was born and has always lived and loved.

Alec Soth/Magnum Photos
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2017.

Alessandra Sanguinetti

Alessandra Sanguinetti chose to focus on one of her two homes: Buenos Aires, where she grew up and where her aging parents still live.

Alessandra Sanguinetti/Magnum Photos
Kitchen counter, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2017.

Trent Parke

To Trent Parke, home meant the city he lives in, at a very specific time of day. With this striking series of painting-like photographs, gorgeous canvases soaked in a startling red sunset light, he pays tribute to the Australian painter Jeffrey Smart and to their hometown: Adelaide.

Trent Parke/Magnum Photos
Australia. Port Adelaide. 2017.

Moises Saman

For this project, Moises Saman chose to go back to the place he was born but did not know: Peru.

Moises Saman/Magnum Photos
A man at a makeshift bar for port workers of the Puerto Productores along the Itaya River in Iquitos, Lima, Peru.

Alex Majoli

For Alex Majoli, “home” was a surprisingly difficult theme to explore.

Alex Majoli/Magnum Photos
Maria in Scicli, Sicily.

Hiroshi Kubota

[Hiroji] photographed some of the country’s thousands of islands from above, focusing on such symbolic places as the atomic dome of Hiroshima or the island sea road from Honshu to Shikoku.

Hiroji Kubota/Magnum Photos
Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan.

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