Carolyn Drake, Enroute to Mountain Brook


Ruby rides to work on the bus. 

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA - It’s Monday morning and we get onto the bus at 8am as usual, but we notice something out of the ordinary: Ruby is sitting alone. “Where’s Ella Mae,” Ashley asks. “She called me last night to tell me she retired,” says Ruby. “They don’t need her no more.”

Ella Mae is 81-years-old and has been riding the bus to Mountain Brook for fifty years to clean the homes and raise the children of wealthy families who live there. She’s a commanding presence on the bus. The other women listen to her. She always sits where she wants, and its always next to Ruby. They banter and joke the whole way to work, inseparable for thirty minutes a day.


Mountain Brook seen through the back window of the bus.

But Ella Mae’s boss passed away a couple months ago, and that meant there was nothing left for her to do in that big empty house.  She kept riding to work for as long as they’d let her. She’d check the mailbox, make herself breakfast, and then sit down to look out the window. Mountain Brook is a pretty place, modeled after an idealized British village. Its full of golf courses, magnolia trees, and country estates. “There ain’t no sense in me sitting at home and looking at these four corner walls every day,” she explained. “Not as long as I am able.” But mainly she kept making the journey to Mountain Brook to visit with friends on the bus.

From this Monday forward, Ella Mae’s seat is empty. Ruby continues to ride over the mountain, surrounded by her dwindling group of colleagues, to take care of her own ninety-year-old boss, who’s still plugging away at life. “I’m gonna miss that mouth,” she says with an honest laugh.

- Carolyn Drake, 2014 Emergency Fund Grantee

— 1 day ago with 4 notes
#Carolyn Drake  #Notes from the Field  #Magnum Foundation  #Emergency Fund  #Invisible Bus  #Birmingham  #Alabama  #Documentary Photography  #Race 
Laura Morton Recounts Mingling with the Dreamers of Silicon Valley


Guests of the Startup and Tech Mixer mingle at the bar during the event, which was held at the W Hotel in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, May 30, 2014. Laura Morton

"Generally I pride myself on being able to become a fly on the wall when I’m working, but while photographing a tech industry networking event recently things changed. This large and boisterous affair took over several floors of a downtown hotel and was filled with energetic start-up entrepreneurs. As I made my way around the event that evening, guests continually approached me, asking if I was a journalist. More often than not, they launched into a passionate pitch about their start-up before I could explain my own photographic project. The cameras around my shoulders had marked me as a possible journalist, turning me into someone deemed useful to talk to. It was an incredibly odd feeling.   

My project Wild West Tech explores the tech industry culture and the way it’s changing San Francisco. Exorbitant fortunes are being made seemingly overnight, income inequality is growing at a rapid pace and the rising cost of living is pushing many long-term residents out. All these issues are, without a doubt, important, but what drew me to this project was a group that is often overlooked by the media.

Young people from around the country and beyond are flocking to San Francisco with dreams of building a successful start-up. They’re cramming into apartments together, living in modern day communes and renting desks in co-working spaces. They work seemingly around the clock on their businesses. Most of these people are not wealthy and many are working on shoestring budgets while searching for funding. A few of them will succeed, become wealthy or build a project that does truly change the world, but most of them will fail.

Silicon Valley is famous for having a positive attitude in all circumstances. People will tell you they’re doing great, even if they’re struggling, which is one of the reasons I feel this group of entrepreneurs has often been misunderstood. 

As the night wore on and several drinks were consumed, some cracks started appearing. One woman pulled me aside and asked me to sit down after which she immediately and breathlessly pitched her start-up with tears in her eyes. I could see the disappointment cross her face when I explained that I wasn’t working for a tech publication. She, like many of the people I talked to that night, was desperately hoping to make the magical and lucky connections needed for her company. 

Another subject I was photographing recently compared my Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant, which enabled me to take the time to get this project off the ground, to an entrepreneur completing a round of seed funding. His comment struck me that photographers and start-up entrepreneurs aren’t all that different from each other. We’re all just trying to find a little funding and a little help to make projects we’re passionate about a reality.”

- Laura Morton, 2014 Emergency Fund Grantee

— 1 week ago with 5 notes
#Notes from the Field  #Emergency Fund  #Wild West Tech  #Silicon Valley  #San Francisco  #Laura Morton  #Magnum Foundation 
EF Grantee Allesandro Penso working with MSF

Emergency Fund Grantee Allesandro Penso recently had a gallery of photographs published by MSF (Doctors without Borders) from his ongoing work in Bulgaria documenting asylum seekers. He received an Emergency Fund grant in 2014 to continue his work documenting the impact the Dublin II Regulation has had on asylum seekers in Europe, and is currently working in Bulgaria. 


Penso’s previous work on this issue has been published widely and recently culminated in the touring exhibition The European Dream: The Road To Bruxelles, a traveling exhibition that followed the path many immigrants make when they enter Europe from Southern Italy to Brussels, Belgium.

— 4 weeks ago with 3 notes
#Emergency Fund  #Magnum Foundation  #alessandro penso  #msf  #bulgaria 
"Friends in Asmara told me that if I ever want to return I should go home and write something nice about Eritrea. But how could I top what Baalu Girma has already written?
The braids of the Northern beauties dance to the rhythm of Asmara’s palm trees and arouse one to follow. I wish to be sheltered by those palm trees and braids for just a fraction of a moment, to breathe and lay on my back and gaze upon a shining star in a clear moonlit sky. I long for the time when we can resolve human conflicts with sweet conversation. I long for peace.
With Baalu’s words in mind, I shot these video sketches during my first visit there earlier this month.”

- Eric Gottesman, 2012 Emergency Fund Grantee

(Here is a link to the first part of this video series)
— 1 month ago with 2 notes
#Notes from the Field  #Emergency Fund  #Eric Gottesman  #Baalu Girma  #Eritrea  #Magnum Foundation 
Getting Down to Business

Congratulations to 2013 EF Grantee Mari Batashevski, recently nominated for the first edition of Lausanne’s Prix Elysee for her MF supported work State Business

Launched in 2010, State Business is a long-term project about the commerce of international conflict. Batashevski uses both text and imagery to evince the rationalizations of the business and the information vacuum surrounding it - from point of manufacture to final destination. 

"Azerbaijan’s defense budget for 2013 was announced to be USD 3.7 billion, an expenditure deliberately designed to dwarf the Armenian state budget…" See more from the project’s chapters here

— 1 month ago with 1 note
#emergency fund  #Magnum Foundation  #prix de lausanne 
EF Grantee becomes Magnum Photos Nominee

The Magnum Photos 67th Annual General Meeting brought together the agency’s staff, estates and photographers – many of whom participated in our Secrets benefit! We’re delighted with the news that 2010 Emergency Fund Grantee Sohrab Hura is Magnum’s newest nominee.

Hura’s powerful Emergency Fund project addressed poverty in rural India, honing in on Pati, a mountainous desert area that was once lush and green before decades of drought and deforestation. Pati’s informed and active “peoples union” makes it a unique place in a country plagued by corruption and unmoved local jurisdiction.

In 2005, India levied The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to assure each and every household in rural India 100 days of employment per year. The residents of Pati have mobilized in efforts to hold the government to their word.

Hura later returned to Pati to install 5 public exhibitions throughout the villages where foot traffic was highest. The exhibitions were featured in conjunction with a public discussion about community health issues.

MF celebrates Hura’s latest achievement and his commitment to working on critical issues.

— 1 month ago with 3 notes
#Magnum Foundation  #magnum photos  #sohrab hura 
Our Portraits, Our Families

The Asian Pride Project presents Our Portraits, Our Families, a groundbreaking group photography exhibition that visualizes and promotes “the realization of love and understanding in our families, as a way to undo culturally ingrained bias.”

Each featured artist worked with an Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ individual and their family. Collectively, the visual narratives address a shared context of immigrant values while shedding light on a topic oftentimes silenced within these communities.

Among the exhibition’s contributors are former Magnum Foundation Fellow Pete Pin, telling the story of Akara Seung, and former Emergency Fund Grantee Justin Maxon, portraying the story of Lesley Kim.

The exhibition is on display through July 13 at the Museum of Chinese in America. Read about the exhibit in the Wall Street Journal.

— 1 month ago with 5 notes
#Magnum Foundation  #pride  #justin maxon  #pete pin 
Photography, Expanded Goes to LOOKbetween 2014

Magnum Foundation brought the Photography, Expanded initiative to the mountains of rural Virginia for the 2014 LOOKbetween Festival.

The Disruptive Images: Photography as Object and Intervention workshop asked participants to draw on activist strategies to develop ideas for installation and intervention-based work that merges physical and digital environments. Discussions were had about tools, tactics, and methods, and plans were made for applying these new approaches to each participant’s work.

The LOOKbetween Festival brings together many of the world’s leading early-career photographers. Taking place only once every four years, LOOKbetween summoned 75 participants from 22 different countries and 15 US states. Nominated by over 70 international leaders in photography.

— 2 months ago with 2 notes
#photoex  #Magnum Foundation  #look3  #lookbetween  #photography 
Bus-kkun at DOCfield>14

Most of the seats on the daily buses from Flushing, Queens to the Sands casino in Bethlehem, PA are occupied by Korean and Chinese immigrants, many of whom do not even gamble. Often homeless, in poor health or out of work and out of options, bus-kkun (bus riders in Korean) make the trip solely to re-sell casino coupons on the black-market. The buses, the waiting rooms and the casino itself become places to sleep, pass time and make it through another day. “The casino is a kind of place that can bleed you dry of everything,” says 57-year-old Chun Hae-Young. “It can also save your life when you have nothing.”

On June 19, Bus-kkun, a multi-media piece by 2013 Magnum Foundation fellow Yeong Ung-Yang, will permeate the streets of Barecelona in the last of the al-fresco night-time screenings of DOCfield>14.

The second annual edition of Documentary Photography Barcelona is three months of collaboratively organized and curated photographic presentations for the public. The festival activities, free of charge, celebrate the social value of photojournalism and the documentary.

— 2 months ago with 1 note
#Magnum Foundation  #bus-kkun  #docfield14  #yeong-ung yang 
Join Us!


The globetrotting Magnum photographer is a cultural and style icon. Once a year these men and women gather in New York, Paris, or London to talk shop and swap stories. This year, to benefit the Magnum Foundation, they’re taking time out from their annual meeting to let you hear what’s usually discussed only behind closed doors.

On June 25th, you are invited to pull up a chair, raise a glass, and keep your ears pricked to off-the-cuff stories from legends like Josef Koudelka, Elliott Erwitt, Jim Goldberg, Martin Parr, Bruce Gilden, Olivia Arthur, Alec Soth, Abbas, Alex Webb, Larry Towell, Donovan Wylie, David Alan Harvey, Costa Manos, Paolo PellegrinSusan Meiselas, and more!

You’ll also have the opportunity to buy and have signed limited-edition and out-of-print photography books and the unique chance to have a portrait made by a notable in the room. V.I.P. guests will enjoy access to the Photographers’ Lounge with food and drink in an intimate setting for one-to-one conversation with the photographers.

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor, NY
June 25, 2014, from 6:00 - 9:30pm 

Reserve an exclusive Portrait Session at SECRETS with one of these four renowned Magnum photographers!  Includes V.I.P. Admission.

SECRETS is produced by Magnum Foundation in partnership with Aperture Foundation and Magnum Photos, Inc.

— 2 months ago with 3 notes
#Magnum Foundation  #aperture  #magnum photos