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basketball player on blue court

Documenting the world's current climate with Magnum Photos

Published date
06 Jun 2020
Megan St Clair Morgan

Year on year, we’ve seen projects from students which span societal, political and creative issues through photos, illustration or animation – this year was no different with students from our annual Magnum Intensive Documentary Photography course looking to the world’s current climate for inspiration and their project focus.

We’ve picked out a few which highlight how creativity can emphasise, communicate and enable further understanding of current issues worldwide.

Dream Melodies by Bruna Veloso

Bruna Veloso developed her project around a classical guitarist, who was impacted by political and economic crises in Brazil which affected his creative education…

“My zine "Dream Melodies" is a glimpse of the Brazilian musician Plínio Fernandes's smooth, peaceful and determined personality. The classic guitar player studied since he was 6 years old and in 2011, was invited by the Royal Academy of Music to join the BA degree based on a video he recorded of himself and sent to them. He received a grant specially created for him by the government of Brazil, which wasn’t renewed for this MA Degree due to the political and economic crises in his home country. The educational cuts don’t intimidate Plínio. He found British sponsors to help his career in Europe, and he has a bright and vibrant future planned.” - Bruna Veloso

Anselm Ebulue

Anselm Ebulue who was awarded this year’s scholarship explored the impact of cuts implemented by the UK Government on recreational activities specifically focussing on Basketball…

“My zine and project are about the basketball community in London and exploring the community within the context of funding cuts at the top level. I’ve always played basketball and while it’s an extremely popular sport with a lot of participation in people of all ages and from all 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.” - Anselm Ebulue

Louis Lammertyn

Louis Lammertyn who was torn between sustainable transport or recycling as his topic for the zine, chose to follow the ever-present impact of transport and the sustainable efforts in transport. After reflecting on life on the water via his photographs Louis notes he ‘could have become a captain’, showcasing the personal connection to the topic…

“I wanted to find a topic that was either linked to sustainable transport or to recycling. I have a personal interest in sustainability and would like to bring forward stories of people working in those fields. The zine shows a selection of some of the photos edited in an order from night through day to night, from low-tide to high-tide and back, from action to rest. This was consciously chosen to reflect the life on the water that is cyclical and moves along with the tides of the Thames. The watermen and lightermen-families have been working for centuries in harmony with this movement of nature. Navigating with the current towards high-tide, moving the barges up-river and picking up cargo. Then sailing off and benefitting from the tide pushing the boats back downstream into the sea, towards low-tide. I could have become a captain. Fifteen years ago, on the day I would sail off starting my studies to become a captain, I changed my mind and pursued a career in business. With this project I eventually adventure into the working-life on the water.” - Louis Lammertyn

Quinn Sheehan-Hipple

Quinn Sheehan-Hipple chose to delve into the impact architectural decisions have on the lives of Londoners – through the subtle effect of London’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard, from various locations across the city… 

“My zine is about the looming presence of the Shard in London life and how we use our spaces in an urban environment. I was originally working on a different project but was inspired by one of Max Houghton's lectures in which she mentioned the Shard's presence in South London. I was also inspired by Chris Steele-Perkins' book Fuji, in which he photographs life in Japan while having Mount Fuji in the background in each shot— which is a reference to Fuji's presence in traditional Japanese wood block prints. I thought it would be interesting to investigate a similar concept of the far reaching but subtle effect of building a large skyscraper into the daily lives of Londoners.” - Quinn Sheehan-Hipple

Find out more about the Magnum Photography Course