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Magnum Intensive Documentary Photography

Magnum Intensive Documentary Photography

London College of Communication
Taught by
Chris Steele-Perkins, Stuart Franklin, Max Houghton


A unique collaboration from two photography masters. This 21 day course led by award-winning Magnum photographers and the College's expert staff, will teach you how to successfully develop a documentary photo project from start to finish.

Magnum Photos is an agency synonymous with integrity, curiosity and 'concerned' photography. For over sixty years, Magnum's international photographers have chronicled the world; helping to shape documentary photography as a modern form of artistic expression and as a tool of change. With over six decades of experience and with access to world-leading photographers and professionals, Magnum Photos is committed in the transfer of its accumulated knowledge to a new generation of visual storytellers. 

London College of Communication is internationally renowned for photography and has a history of teaching many of the world's top photographers.

During this three-week course, you will become absorbed in the practice and history of documentary photography and Magnum's legacy and contemporary contribution to it. The course will support development and production of photographic objects from start to finish. 

Together Magnum and LCC will equip you with the historical and contextual framework required to raise critical thinking about documentary photography, as well as providing technical guidance and tutorial support. Class time will be supported by evening lectures from LCC staff and selected Magnum photographers. You will be taught at Magnum’s offices and in the College's extensive, specialist facilities. The dual location means you can experience the buzz of a working agency whilst making the most of academic space and guidance to concentrate on your practice.

Focusing on how to develop a personal project and an authentic  voice, you will explore and define your individual approach to documentary photography and will consider all elements of successful project development; from research phases, to access and shooting, to the editing and creation of a public projection.

The experience of joining the Magnum Documentary Photography course will be a unique and positive experience, with a social dimension that will allow students to interact with other students and professionals, sharing ideas and expertise. 

Read about the August 2016 course in this interview with course leader Max Houghton. 


Led by Magnum photographers Stuart Franklin and Chris Steele-Perkins, and by Max Houghton, course leader of MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at LCC, with other Magnum Photographers, LCC tutors and industry experts as guest speakers. For tutor biographies please see below. 

Course Aims 

The aim of the course is for you to find new ways of disseminating your work. This could mean exhibiting in galleries or self-publishing books, right through to developing a web presence. Very few photographers depend upon editorial work as a sole means of making a living anymore - so you will be encouraged to think laterally about your work. 

It is important for you to understand where your work sits in a wider context, so it’s important to learn about the history of both photography and art in general, as well as some contemporary photographic theory so you can engage in the debates with some confidence. These days, more than ever before, it’s important to be able to discuss your work and your ideas eloquently. 

Topics covered:

  • Shooting on location – daily assignments and briefs in London
  • Magnum Print Room – you will spend time learning professional practice, the mechanics of the photography business, networking and career development
  • Museum visits - Learn about national photography collections, including the V&A Museum, through tours with curators
  • Lectures - led by Magnum photographers and LCC staff
  • Critique – individually and in groups, looking at technique, subject and personal voice
  • Editing and production - learning how editing, sequencing and design can reveal narrative 
  • Learning how to pitch and present your work 
  • Graduation party – celebrate and display work digitally to a public and industry audience

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • Create an industry standard and academically informed body of photographic work
  • Have unique insight into the history of documentary photography
  • Engage in critical debates on ethics, industry and technology in contemporary photographic practice
  • Continue developing essential skills in writing, editing and making work for different audiences

Student Blog 

Our 2015 students have been blogging about their experiences throughout the course. Read what they have to say here


You will be required to study provided reading lists to familiarise yourself with the history and precedent of documentary photography and demonstrate the application of this understanding to your own practice.

You will have access to LCC’s library, including direction to relevant photo-books.

Image Galleries

Take a look at our Flickr image galleries to get a feel for the course;

Bieke Deeporter workshop

Book making workshop

End of course presentation

Entry Requirements

Academic: You should have some prior experience of photography and know how to operate a camera. If you have questions about your academic background, please email the short courses team.

English: You should be proficient in written and spoken English and be able to participate in group discussions and make presentations. As a guideline we would expect you to have an IELTS score of 6.0. The Language Centre at University of the Arts London offers English courses for overseas students.

Follow Up Courses

After you have completed this course you may want to continue your education with Documentary Filmmaking and Editing Tapeless or enhance your documentary story with Effective Writing for Journalists.

For more information please contact us and visit the Magnum Photos Blog to read about the Summer 2015 course. 

Tutor Description

Chris Steele-Perkins joined Magnum Photos in 1979 and soon began working extensively in the developing world, in particular in Africa, Central America and Lebanon, as well as continuing to take photographs in Britain: The Pleasure Principle explores Britain in the 1980s. In 1992 he published Afghanistan, the result of four trips over four years. After marrying his second wife, Miyako Yamada, he embarked on a long-term photographic exploration of Japan, publishing Fuji in 2000. A highly personal diary of 2001, Echoes, was published in 2003, and the second of his Japanese books, Tokyo Love Hello, in March 2007. He continues to work in Britain, documenting rural life in County Durham, which was published as Northern Exposures in 2007. In 2009 he published a collection of work from 40 years of photographing England - England, My England. A new book, on British centenarians, Fading Light was published in 2012.

Stuart Franklin's coverage of the Sahel famine from 1984 to 1985 won him acclaim, but he is perhaps best known for his celebrated photograph of a man defying a tank in Tiananmen Square, China, in 1989, which won him a World Press Photo Award. Since 1990, Franklin has completed over twenty assignments for National Geographic. His documentary photography has taken him to Central and South America, China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Since 2004 he has focused on long-term projects concerned primarily with man and the environment.

Max Houghton is a senior lecturer in photography at LCC, where she teaches on MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography. Prior to this port she was Course Leader in MA Photojournalism at the University of Westminster. Max's specialism is the relationship between words and pictures, in contemporary practice and specifically in the work of W G Sebald, the subject of her dissertation. She edited the photography biannual 8 magazine for six years, and continues to write for the international arts press, notably for FOAM, LifeForce, Telephoto, the BBC and Black & White Photography. She has curated exhibition in London, Brighton, and New York and has given public lectures and talks at De Balie, Amsterdam, and in London at LSE and the Frontline Club. Max is also editorial advisor for the Little Black Gallery and Here Press.


Please bring your own camera and laptop.

If no dates are showing then please Enquire about this course and we will contact you when new dates are published.