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Magnum Workshop with Abbas
January 7, 2013
by A. Abbas
The Magnum Workshop with Abbas is a five day practice focused photography workshop led by one of the most powerful social issues photographer.
Up to 12 near professional students, who should be motivated and willing to work very hard for 5 days. Abbas has the reputation of exhausting his students… and himself.

The Magnum Workshop with Abbas in Paris is the second event forming part of the 2013 educational program in Paris.

The workshop will be held inside the Magnum Photos’ agency – 19, rue Hégésippe Moreau, 75018 Paris - from March 15th to 19th, 2013.

The Workshop

Participants will be asked to approach a photographic story in the Paris 18th district or the surrounding area, in some cases relating to previous photographic work or interests and in others providing an opportunity to work under a new discipline. Workshop will be held in French/English and the class will be assigned an assistant who will facilitate the workshop and guide students with technical or logistical questions and orientate students with the local area.

Day 1 – Morning

*Each photographer to bring 10 to 15 small work prints (cheap 13x18cms) about a previous work, preferably on a single subject. Expensive folio prints are not necessary.

This work will be laid on the table and evaluated to ascertain the level of each student.

*Assignments are then discussed and given.

Afternoon and evening

Students shoot their respective subjects.

Day 2, 3, 4

*Students shoot all day

*They come back in late afternoon to edit their shoot in groups of two on their computers

*The work is then projected and discussed by all

*A small edit is then printed.

Day 5

*Students finish off their editing

*Once all the work prints made, they are laid out on a table for the final edit

*A concept is worked out which leads to the sequencing of the work

*The aim of this exercise is to emphasize the importance of editing and sequencing to present a coherent image of the various assignments.

Rather than act as a professor who hands down the truth, Abbas tends to direct students to find out by themselves how they can improve their photography and their editing. Previous workshop students in Mexico, Cairo, Bali, Tokyo, Dharamsala, Singapore etc… have appreciated this method.

Through the generous support of Magnum’s educational partners Blurb, workshop participants will also have the opportunity to further their editing experience through the production of a group Blurb books.

The session will culminate in a projection of participant work and a public exhibition at the Magnum Paris office.

The Photographer

Born a photographer, Abbas is an Iranian transplanted to Paris. He has dedicated himself to documenting the political and social life of societies in conflict. In his major work since 1970 he has covered wars and revolutions in Biafra, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the Middle East, Chile, Cuba, and South Africa during apartheid.

From 1978 to 1980, Abbas photographed the revolution in Iran, to which he returned in 1997 after seventeen years of voluntary exile. His book Iran Diary 1971-2002 is a critical interpretation of Iranian history, photographed and written as a private journal.

During his years of exile Abbas traveled constantly. Between 1983 and 1986 he journeyed through Mexico, attempting to photograph a country as a novelist might write about it. The resulting exhibition and book, Return to Mexico: Journeys Beyond the Mask, helped define his photographic aesthetic.

From 1987 to 1994, he focused on the resurgence of Islam throughout the world. Allah O Akbar: A Journey Through Militant Islam, the subsequent book and exhibition, spanning twenty-nine countries and four continents, attracted special attention after the 9/11 attacks by Islamic jihadists. A later book, Faces of Christianity: A Photographic Journey (2000), and touring show explored Christianity as a political, ritual and spiritual phenomenon

Abbas' concern with religion led him in 2000 to begin a project on animism, in which he sought to discover why non-rational ritual has re-emerged in a world increasingly defined by science and technology. He abandoned this undertaking in 2002, on the first anniversary of 9/11, to start a new long-term project about the clash of religions, defined as culture rather than faith, which he believes are turning into political ideologies and therefore one of the sources of the strategic struggles of the contemporary world.

From 2008 to 2010 Abbas travelled the world of Buddhism, photographing with the same sceptical eye. In 2011 he started a similar long term project on Hinduism.

A member of Sipa from 1971 to 1973, then of Gamma from 1974 to 1980, Abbas joined Magnum Photos in 1981 and became a member in 1985.

Abbas’ portfolio on the Magnum website


Workshop participants should be able to show a good level of photographic aptitude. Candidates will be expected to arrive comfortable with their equipment and ready to photograph. The workshop is limited to just 12 participants and photographers will be subject to online applications.

We recommend participants arrive with at least one realistic project idea they wish to develop during the workshop, and that preliminary research be conducted before the workshop begins. This should include contact liaison, access information and even early shooting – Please refer to your teacher’s specific requirements.

On the first day participants will have the opportunity to present their existing work and discuss project ideas. The workshop structure is self-directed and participants will be responsible for their own coordination and time management. Candidates are encouraged to be realistic about what is achievable in four days.

Due to the fast pace of the workshop, Magnum highly recommends that participants produce and edit their work digitally, using their own laptops. Individuals wishing to use film may do so, but at their own cost and during the time imposed. Lab services will be recommended.


950€ (does not include travel, accommodations or on the ground expenses). All fees must be paid within 7 days of acceptance or you will forfeit your space. Refund policies will be emailed with acceptance letter.

Please note: Magnum Photos reserves the right to cancel groups with less than 7 participants. Students will be given either a full refund or offered a place with an alternative photographer. In the event of a cancellation, students will be given at least 2 weeks advance notice. Magnum Photos reserves the right to change or alter the program advertised.
- If a participant decides to cancel for whatever reason, this must be confirmed in writing:
. Magnum Photos will reimburse all the registration costs except for €100 administrative fee, if the participant informs Magnum Photos of cancellation at least 3 weeks before the first day of the workshop. Beyond this time limit, Magnum Photos will charge the following:
. 50% of the cost if cancelled between 6 and 20 days before the workshop commences.
. 100% of the cost if cancelled less than 5 days before the workshop commences.
. All workshops that are commenced but not completed through the fault of either the contractor/or participant need to be paid in full.
- Magnum Photos is not responsible for reimbursement of travel expenses in case a workshop is cancelled. We recommend that you buy refundable air tickets and/or travel insurance.

Travel & Accommodation

Participants are expected to make their own arrangements regarding travel and accommodation; a list of suitable accommodation options will be provided to successful candidates. International visitors can travel to Paris from most major terminals.
Please ensure you have the necessary travel documents & relevant visas in order to attend the event. Magnum Photos can provide letters of support where necessary.


Click here to apply

The first deadline for acceptance is February 26th, and qualified applicants will be selected through a combination of the merit of their work and their personal statement, and the order of their application's receipt. All applications received after January 1st will be reviewed, space permitting.

For queries please contact: Nicolas Ossard.