Nanna Heitmann, 2019 Magnum nominee, discusses reconnecting with her roots, and the way that one posed portrait changed her approach to making work
"I'm attracted to people who are shaped by their environment, who choose to live or work in extreme situations. "
- Nanna Heitmann
Born in Ulm, Germany, Nanna Heitmann bases herself in Moscow where she covers current events, such as the invasion of Ukraine, while pursuing long–term projects that often focus on how people respond to and interact with their environment.
Heitmann has documented the effects of climate change, such as catastrophic forest fires and melting permafrost in Siberia (As Frozen Lands Burn), as well as the peatlands of the Congo Basin, which serve as the world’s largest carbon reservoir (Beneath the Trees). She has been published by National Geographic, Time, and M Le Magazine du Monde, among others, and contributes to The New York Times and The New Yorker. Her visual journalism has been recognized with numerous prizes, including the Olivier Rebbot Award for her work on Russia’s Covid experience, and a World Press Photo Award for her story on forest fires.
Heitmann became a Magnum nominee in 2019, joining on the strength of two bodies of personal work that both deal with issues of isolation — physical, social and spiritual. Weg vom Fenster (“Gone From the Window”), focused on the inhabitants of Germany’s last operating coal mine. And for Hiding From Baba Yaga — a project whose title is inspired by the witch of Slavic folklore — Heitmann followed the world’s longest river from the Republic of Tuva northward through Siberia, photographing the lives of people living on the remote banks of the Yenisei River. Her gaze conveys the dignity and humanity of these people and allows the viewer to look at them with curiosity and empathy.
Heitmann became a full member of Magnum in 2023.