Thursday, February 04, 2010

Magnum’s Photo Archives Make Move to University of Texas -

Magnum’s Photo Archives Make Move to University of Texas -

The Magnum archive joins a parade of other collections of vintage photographic prints, including those of The New York Times and the National Geographic Society, that have changed hands in the past few years, as publications and photo agencies, moving aggressively to digitization, have realized they are sitting on valuable historical property.

Like other photo agencies, Magnum has seen its fortunes decline in recent years, along with those of the magazines and newspapers that once published the work of its photographers more regularly. The best known of these pictures went on to have long financial afterlives, thanks to licensing agreements that placed them everywhere from television to books and Web sites. But in a world of camera-phone images, bloggers and inexpensive photojournalism flooding the Internet, the cooperative’s finances have suffered.

“You could see the handwriting on the wall,” said Mr. Lubell, who took over as director six years ago, “and the handwriting was shrinking and shrinking.” With the proceeds from the sale the agency — which represents the work of 13 estates and 51 current members, including well-known photographers like Bruce Davidson, Eve Arnold, Susan Meiselas, Martin Parr and Alec Soth — will try to recreate itself as a media entity on the Web, relying less on publications and more on its ability to tell its own stories of world events and trends.


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