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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,specialistfacilities. 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.

Led by award-winning Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin and Max Houghton, course leader of MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at LCC, with tutorial sessions by Magnum photographer Chris Steele-Perkins and Rafal Milach. 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:

  • How to devise and research a photographic project: What makes a good idea and how visual storytelling can be employed to best articulate a concept?
  • Practical assignments and on location shooting
  • Magnum Print Room: during weekend sessions, you will learn tips and tricks to navigate and demystify the photography business, offering career development and networking opportunities
  • Lectures led by Magnum photographers and staff, industry experts and LCC faculty
  • Museum visit: learn about the V&A Museum photography collection, through a tour with the curator
  • Critique individually and in groups with a focus on technique, subject and personal voice
  • Editing and production: learn how editing, sequencing and design can reveal narrative and meaning
  • How to present and pitch your work to clients
  • Advice surgery with Magnum staff
  • Zine workshop: design, print and make your own zine from the work shot over the three-week period
  • Graduation party: celebrate and display work digitally during a public screening. Selected alumni may have their work featured on the Magnum Website and Magnum Learn Instagram account

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

Blog Feeds 
Read student and tutor interviews during their time at Magnum Documentary Photography Short Course: 

Authentic voices from Magnum Documentary Photography students

Making zines with Magnum Photo Magnum

Documentary Photography students response to the city

Magnum Documentary Photography summer school: 5 student journeys

A look inside LCC's Magnum Documentary Photography short course

See the page on the Magnum Documentary website. 

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 or enhance your documentary story with Effective Writing for Journalists

Tutor Description

At the age of two, Chris Steele-Perkins moved to England from Burma with his father. He went to school at Christ’s Hospital. At the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he studied psychology and worked for the student newspaper; he graduated with honours in 1970 and started to work as a freelance photographer, moving to London in 1971.

Apart from a trip to Bangladesh in 1973, he worked mainly in Britain in areas concerned with urban poverty and subcultures. In 1975, he worked with EXIT, a collective dealing with social problems in British cities. This involvement culminated in the book Survival Programmes in 1982. He joined the Paris-based Viva agency in 1976. In 1979 he published his first solo book, The Teds; he also edited the Arts Council of Great Britain’s book, About 70 Photographs.

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.

His book, The Pleasure Principle explores Britain in the 1980s and in 1992 he published Afghanistan,  which was 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.

Steele-Perkins has two sons, Cedric, born 16th November 1990, and Cameron, born 18th June 1992. With his marriage to Miyako Yamada, he has a stepson, Daisuke and a grand-daughter, Momoe.

Stuart Franklin was born in London in 1956. Having left school at 16, he went on to study photography at West Surrey College of Art and Design. His photographic career began when he started to work for The Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph Magazine in London and later with Agence Presse Sygma in Paris.

During his time at Sygma (1980–85) he absorbed the skills of news photography, and also followed Henri Cartier-Bresson’s approach to photography; as he puts it, “curious, gentle, surreal with beautiful compositions – his work influenced just about everything I attempted.

In his words, “At Sygma photographers arrived from Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon unloading their Domke bags and their stories. Later I felt confident enough to tell my own. I covered the 1983 Nigerian exodus, the Heysel Stadium disaster, the Beirut bombing of the French and American bases, the civil war there and in Sri Lanka, the conflict in Northern Ireland and finally the 1984–85 famine in Sudan.”

In Khartoum, Stuart shared a flat with Sebastião Salgado for a few weeks. Salgado worked with Magnum Photos in Paris – founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour, Robert Capa and George Rodger. Stuart was invited to join in the summer of 1985 and has been a full member since 1989, serving most recently as the agency’s elected president between 2006-2009.

It was during 1989 that Stuart took his acclaimed photographs in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where a demonstration for freedom ended in a massacre. After that, he began to move away from news into magazine feature photography.

Between 1990 and 2004 he photographed about twenty stories for National Geographic Magazine. During this time, Stuart decided to pursue a better theoretical understanding of some of the issues he confronted, by embarking on a period of academic study in 1997. He graduated with a first class degree in Geography from Oxford University and went on to complete his doctoral thesis there in 2002.

In 2005, he undertook the series of large-format photographs of Europe’s changing landscape that has led to his book, Footprint: Our Landscape in Flux (Thames & Hudson, 2008).

During 2009, Stuart travelled to Mali and the Middle East and co-curated the Noorderlicht Photo Festival 2009 with an exhibition entitled Point of No Return on the continuing conflict in Gaza. In a change of approach to documentary, Stuart undertook a course of training at the UK’s National Film and Television School in observational documentary. Subsequently, Stuart worked on his first long-form documentary Runners, together with film work for ESPN.

During 2010, Stuart continued with his project Farmscapes supported and funded by the Scottish National Galleries. The work was first exhibited at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2012. During 2010-13 Stuart completed a long-term landscape project Narcissus, exhibited during in 2012/13 in Ålesund-Norway, Kristiansund – Norway, London, Paris, and Edinburgh.

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.

Available dates

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