“It was so refreshing to have somebody come to you so enthusiastic about trying to help young photographers.” Fiona Rogers, Global Business Development Manager at Magnum Photos recalls being approached by IdeasTap back in 2010. “We met and we decided that we wanted to do an award that was different from everything else that was on offer.”
In 2011 the annual IdeasTap Photographic Award in association with Magnum Photos launched. Unlike many photography competitions it was free to enter and, along with £1,500 project funding and £5,000 prize money, incorporated a structured programme of exhibitions, mentoring and internships. “We didn’t want to do something that was just about cash,” says Fiona. “We wanted to really help people with their career development.”
Over the next four years the competition evolved to cater for international photographers and those aged over 30 but the focus always remained on identifying the most talented emerging photographers and supporting them to find their way in a changing industry. “Winning the award gave me more credibility,” says Pierfrancesco Celada, the first award winner. “It was a great push to work harder, and interning at Magnum in New York was an incredible experience.”
Through our relationship, 250 IdeasTap members won free places on Professional Practice two-day seminars with experts from across the image business – newspaper picture editors, book designers, NGO commissioners, advertising art buyers – at locations across the UK, from London to Bradford, Liverpool and Newport. Many photographers started to build their professional networks at these seminars. “Meeting industry people is hard,” says Fiona. “It’s not something that comes naturally to creatives and it’s not always taught in formal education.”
Marco Kessler - Valery / Alice Myers - Beach Cones
We also ran 18 editions of the Magnum Showcase, a monthly themed competition judged by Magnum photographers and staff, offering winners tailored feedback and online promotion. Judges included Bruce Gilden, Alec Soth, Christopher Anderson and Richard Kalvar, with themes such as suburbia, silence, family portrait and road trip. On IdeasTap’s online magazine, IdeasMag, we featured advice-filled interviews with Magnum greats like Martin Parr and Steve McCurry, as well as profiles of the winners of our competitions, sharing what they learnt and achieving wider exposure for their work in the process.
Together we’ve worked with some fantastic organisations: 30 Under 30 offered the best young photographers from all over the world the chance to be exhibited at The Photography Show in Birmingham, while the Oxfam Photography Prize for Women and the Save the Children International Photography Commission both saw young photographers travel abroad to undertake work for the NGOs, receive £1,000 and mentoring from Magnum photographers.
A real highlight of the partnership was the 2013 Magnum Annual General Meeting, which took place at IdeasTap’s Bermondsey offices. Over the four days of the AGM, IdeasTap members joined in bookmaking workshops, portfolio reviews and a symposium on the future of photography. Young image-makers and writers interviewed Magnum photographers for a one-off zine. One of them was David Hurn. “I have mentored young photographers, I have been involved with Professional Practice and I have been exposed to over 800 emerging photographers through our collaborative awards and competitions. These activities have been among the most positive I have had in teaching,” he says. “I think it tragic that the initiative has ended.”
Looking back on everything Magnum and IdeasTap have achieved over the past five years, Fiona shares David’s view. “There was so much we were able to do – we were really able to ramp up our commitment to young photographers,” she says. “There were the opportunities and the cash prizes but equally significant was the sense of community. We see it with the guys that do Professional Practice or win our awards. It’s a real shame that it’s going to be no longer.”
IdeasTap Photographic Award winners 2014 - Souvid Datta, Abbie Trayler-Smith and Lee Price / Maria Gruzdeva - The Borders of Russia