The Relevance of Picture Agencies

In an article at the Wall Street Journal, Mary Panzer questions whether photo agencies like Magnum are still relevant in the modern media era. It’s a good question, and one I don’t really want to think about too much.

More troubling is the fact that with the decline of the press and its demand for relevance, and the rise of the gallery where everything can sell, we have lost the tension between good and good-enough-to-show-the-world. When there were fewer photographers, Magnum admitted only the best to its club, and we trusted it to be our gatekeeper. Now we live in a world without Life magazine, but with too many pictures. What form of photojournalist will emerge from these conditions? Who can make images for the digital world that will show us something we can’t see without them?

Troubling, indeed. We need Concerned Photographers. Desperately.

And we need a way to fund them.

Mark E. Johnson

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