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Pursuing Photography – we talk to Magnum Photos Scholar Anselm Ebulue

Published date
24 Oct 2019

Over the last 5 years, we've partnered with Magnum Photos to offer a unique three-week documentary photography course held in August – Magnum Intensive Documentary Photography.

For the second year, we were proud to offer a scholarship opportunity for one emerging photographer. This year’s successful applicant was Anselm Ebulue, who was also provided with a camera for the duration of the course, thanks to Fujifilm UK. We caught up with Anselm to discuss all things documentary photography, the impact of this opportunity, what he focused his work towards and his capturing of a politically fuelled topic which impacts the community he documented and is actively a part of.

Focusing his work on the local community in London specifically through the sport Basketball – Anselm aimed to explore this in relation to the funding cuts to community recreational activities by UK government. Anselm, an ambitious and enthusiastic photographer tells us of purchasing his first camera around 5 years ago – where he then developed a further interest in visual storytelling. Looking to photography as a creative outlet whilst he was ‘in a rut’, finding it as a tool to visually express himself.

Work by Anselm Ebulue

Firstly congratulations on being awarded this year’s scholarship, what encouraged you to apply? 

I found out about the course quite late and it seemed like the course was a great fit for me and where I was at this stage of my career. I wanted to continue pursuing photography seriously and it just made sense to apply!

Sonia Jeunet, Education Manager at Magnum Photos notes:

“Our aim with the scholarship is to support an emerging photographer from London into developing a body of work and creating a network of industry people, hoping this will help launch and sustain their photographic career.

The scholarship is also designed for someone who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford university fees. For me it’s important to stay in contact once the course is over and to follow the journey of the students. That’s true not only for our scholar but for any student taking part in the course! For example, we are about to launch a new masterclass for young Londoners and I have invited Anselm to talk about his experience. And I’m hoping I can help him with his next photography project.”

How did you first get into photography? Has it always been of interest?

I purchased my first camera about 5 years ago, but I’ve always been interested in visual story-telling. I got into photography because I was in a bit of a rut and needed a creative outlet. Ever since, I’ve been trying to express and find myself through the medium.

Your work was selected as part of Portrait of Britain last year, how did this impact your progression? 

Being one of the winners in 2018 was an important moment on a professional and personal level. It’s a competition that encourages applicants of all skill levels and it gave me a huge amount of confidence. It allowed me to question whether photography was something I could really go for seriously.

As part of the course all students create a zine of a project focus of their choice – tell us about yours…

My zine and project is about the basketball community in London and exploring the community within the context of funding cuts at the top level.

How did you find your project focus?

I’ve always played basketball and while it’s an extremely popular sport with a lot of participation from people of all ages and backgrounds, it has never really been given sustained focus and attention in the UK. Last year, (Feb 2018) MP David Lammy gave a speech in a debate about the funding cuts at Westminster Hall. I found it interesting as I didn’t realise how poorly funded the sport actually was. That was what got me going initially.

Tell us about your experience on the course? 

The course exceeded my expectations. I wanted to be guided in creating a body of work and learn what thinking goes into creating that. I also wanted to gauge whether I could do a Masters at some point in the future and thought the course would give me an idea. I found that the course met all my expectations. The lectures were varied and detailed and the guidance from all the speakers and course leaders was exceptional. It has ultimately given me the confidence to go forward and develop my ideas in a more organised manner and create more work in the future.

Find out more about the Magnum Intensive Documentary Photography Course