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A look inside LCC’s Magnum Documentary Photography short course

Magnum Documentary Photography Bruce 10
Magnum Documentary Photography Bruce 10

Written by
ealderwick
Published date
20 April 2016
This summer London College of Communication will again be running a Magnum Documentary Photography short course.

This 21-day course will be led by award-winning Magnum photographers and the College’s expert staff, and will explore how to successfully develop a documentary photo project from start to finish.

CHINA. Beijing. Tiananmen Square. 1989.

Stuart Franklin/Magum Photos, Tiananmen Square, 1989.

We met with LCC MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Senior Lecturer Max Houghton, who will also be teaching on the Magnum course, to find out more about it.

Max, can you talk us through this course and who is going to be involved with running it?

The LCC-Magnum summer school, now in its third year, is an exciting date in the calendar. Stuart Franklin has led the course for Magnum, working first with Chris Steele Perkins, and then last year with Mark Power. Emily Graham, who runs Magnum’s education department, and I are having conversations about who might be able to teach it this year.

Magnum’s new intake is very interesting, so we’re quite spoilt for choice. I run the full-time MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the College, and I will lead the teaching for LCC.

BRAZIL. Sao Paulo. The largest pool in Sao Paulo draws working class Paulistanos - but not the cities affluent population. "You would never see a rich person here" says a city resident. Terrified of crime, the wealthy live in walled, gated enclaves protected by armed guards. 2002.

Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos, Sao Paulo, 2002.

Will this course be exploring any specific themes or working around any specific ideas, or is it quite an open self-directed programme?

We work with the theme of ‘A Sense of Place’. It’s loose enough for creative expression but tight enough to provide a structure. I will be giving a lecture on my own long-standing research interest of image-text. I will also be writing a session on Walking Photography, which will fit very well with the theme.

Other LCC staff, the photographic artist Edmund Clark, writer, photographer and curator Lewis Bush and writer and theory tutor Jenny Good have all taught on the course before. New for this year are bookmaking sessions with our in-house experts Scott House and Tony Yard, and darkroom sessions in the rather legendary LCC facilities.

Magnum Documentary Photography Bruce 10

Bruce Horak, work from Magnum course July 2015.

Who would be best suited to this course?

We’ve welcomed students with a range of experience so far onto the course. Because we can offer one-to-one tutorials, any difference in photographic skills is manageable. We have worked with mid-career photographers looking for a creative boost; recent graduates, looking to make their portfolio dazzle, as well as people who work in other industries but have a serious interest in photography.

Magnum Documentary Photography Michelle 14

Michelle Markham, work from Magnum course July 2015.

Will there be any group visits or activities, and how much of the course is independent work?

The actual shooting is quite self-directed, but there is lots of classroom support in terms of crits, tutorials and lectures. Stuart organises a fantastic visit and tour of The British Museum each year, and we will also visit a photography archive and gallery.

Magnum Documentary Photography Bruce 9

Bruce Horak, work from Magnum course July 2015.

Magnum Documentary Photography Ashima 5

Ashima Yadava, work from Magnum course July 2015.

What can students expect to take away from this course?

By the end of the course, the students will have been exposed to a variety of scenarios: shooting a new project from scratch, editing their own work, learning the skills of layout and sequencing to make their story flow, whether in a book or on a wall.

In addition, they will meet top industry experts during the three weeks, who will either be giving guest lectures, or will attend the celebratory finale event, in which all work is projected and wine flows.

Magnum Documentary Photography Dean

Dean Berner, work from Magnum course July 2015.

Why have LCC teamed up with Magnum to provide this course?

Magnum Photos is obviously a legendary organisation, and it’s a testament to the brilliant courses we run at LCC that Magnum have chosen us as their educational partners. I think at the core of this collaboration, and a united passion of both Magnum and LCC is a commitment to rigorous and creative storytelling.

Magnum Documentary Photography Keita 12

Keita Furusawa, work from Magnum course July 2015.


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Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos, Salford, 1986.

Find out more about LCC’s Magnum Documentary Photography short course