Code of Ethics

Purpose and Magnum’s values

We fiercely believe in the importance of making and sharing images, in the right to freedom of expression and in the need for complex and sometimes difficult stories to be told with integrity and care. We also expect each other to adhere to high standards of ethical and moral behavior.

This Code of Ethics is not intended to be a set of rules; its purpose is to set out our ethical commitments and ensure that we all act in accordance with shared values.


It is not possible to set out exhaustive principles to cover every eventuality, but we believe this list encompasses most of the relevant considerations that we should take into account in the course of making and sharing photographs. We expect each other to exercise reasonable judgment on each of the points and not act in a way that could or would bring Magnum and its Photographers and Employees into disrepute.

The list of commitments should be seen as a whole and it may not always be possible to meet every one of them. In some instances one may have to give way to another, and we expect such decisions to be made with the best possible judgement.

Our commitments are:

  • To report, interpret and present our work with honesty and integrity.
  • To make careful decisions about whether and where work should be published.
  • To maintain our independence and not self-censor or accept requests to censor our work.
  • To respect individuals’ right to privacy and balance this with the broader public interest.
  • To minimise any harm that may be caused through our work.
  • To present accurate information in captions or as context.
  • To be open about collaborative or non-traditional documentary practices.
  • To only use honest means when seeking consent.
  • To exercise special care with children and other vulnerable persons and not exploit vulnerability.
  • To respect the confidence of sources of information.
  • To respect the moral rights of others and not to plagiarise.
  • To recognize and be tolerant of those who have differing views from our own.
  • To openly acknowledge mistakes and take measures to ensure they do not occur again.

We believe it is possible to uphold the commitments set out above without undermining the strength of photography to document reality, and without sanitizing it. We will review the commitments on a regular basis.

Dealing with the Code in Practice

Magnum recognizes that decisions often need to be made in the moment and there is little or no time for photographers to consult. Where confronted with situations where the most ethical course of action is unclear and there is time for consultation, Photographers and Employees are encouraged to seek advice from Magnum’s Board.

Those who witness or otherwise learn of behaviour that may be contrary to the spirit of this Code, taken as a whole, can report this to Magnum via the channels set out in its Public Complaints Policy and Procedure.

Who does this Code of Ethics apply to?

  • All photographers who are represented by Magnum whether members, associates, nominees, contributors, correspondents, representatives of estates, or otherwise currently associated with Magnum (collectively defined as “Photographers” in this document);
  • All staff, whether officeholders, employees, workers, interns or contractors, to include non-staff or entities who provide services to Magnum pursuant to a contract (collectively defined as “Employees” in this document).

Magnum recognizes that Photographers also engage in activity external to the activity of the agency. We take the view that both Photographers and Employees represent the face of Magnum to the public, and therefore expect behaviour to reflect our goals and ideals at all times.

All references in this Code of Ethics to ‘we’ or ‘us’ shall mean Magnum and all the above individuals. It is fundamental that Magnum lead by example in encouraging us to take responsibility for our individual, as well as our collective ethical behaviour. We must all familiarise ourselves with this Code of Ethics, together with other related Magnum policies and documents.

For the avoidance of doubt, this Code of Ethics is not contractual and does not form part of any contract of employment.


This Code of Ethics should be read alongside Magnum’s Code of Conduct and its Public Complaints Policy and Procedure.


We recognize that high ethical standards require constant attention and reinforcement, and this Code of Ethics is intended to be an evolving document and kept under annual review by Magnum’s Board.

Magnum will inform Photographers and Employees of any changes and distribute the Code of Ethics as appropriate, to include to other partners, suppliers, or personnel.

This Code of Ethics will remain published on Magnum’s website:
Code issue date: 28/09/21
Date of next update: 28/09/22

The Code of Ethics is next due for a general review on the above date. It may however be reviewed, amended and updated at Magnum’s discretion, whether in the event of a change in requirements, including changes to relevant legislation, or otherwise.

Other related policies: Public Complaints Policy and Procedure, Code of Conduct

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