The Essex Photo Album workshops will be hosted by Magnum Photos at libraries in Basildon, Harlow, Canvey Island, and Colchester. Through a series of four workshops, participants are invited to reflect on stereotyping representations of the county, offer strategies for how this can be combated and engage in a co-creation of a photo album by contributing images from their homes, cameras and phones. These events aim to collectively discuss the importance of visual literacy by exploring the power of storytelling through photography.

The workshop will produce a curated educational resource, combining archival images of Essex from Magnum’s extensive collection, with the newly commissioned contemporary work by Magnum photographer Lua Ribeira (created between May 1-7, 2023).

Throughout the workshop participants will be asked to reflect on questions such as “What do you see?” “Where was the image taken?” “What was the time period when the image was shot?” “What is the main antagonist in the image?” and “What kind of emotions does the image evoke?”. These questions are designed to help participants analyse and interpret the images in the Essex Photo Album and to facilitate discussion around the power of visual storytelling.

At the end of the workshop, each participant will be able to contribute to the Essex Photo Album by donating a reproduction of their family albums, snapshots and mobile images to enhance the “insider” and “local” gaze of what Essex means to them. Each participant will be able to contribute an often overlooked, silenced and missing portrayal of the county through oral and visual recollections and sharing of stories and images.

The photo album is intended to showcase and make publicly accessible the evolving heritage of the region and will be inspired by Jes Fernie’s critical reflection on the Magnum archive. In her text she writes::

Photographers looking to tell the story of Essex over the years have had to grapple with the powerful temptation of reconfirming well-honed narratives involving poverty, isolation, ostentatious wealth, mildly brutish behaviour, and right-wing ideology. It seems that for many of them, the temptation is too enticing. The ‘Essex’ section of the Magnum and Getty Images archives are full of people sporting tattoos, bad teeth, no teeth, face-lifts, people who are old before their time, who look malnourished, over-nourished, rangy, poor and loud. People sniffing glue at bus stops, teddy boys and girls looking aggressive and proprietorial, drunk women at hen parties, people wearing pink tracksuits eating chips on the beach. There’s space now for new narratives, ones that welcomes the ghosts, the brave, the unruly, and embraces all the strangeness.


11:00 – 13:00 – Lecture on Visual literacy and the history of photography by Bayryam Bayryamali, Education Manager

14:00 – 16:00 – Participatory workshop on co-creation of the Essex Photo Album

Dates & Tickets:

Harlow Library – Wednesday 24th May: book here.

Basildon Library – Thursday 25th May: book here.

Canvey Island Library – Tuesday 30th May: book here.

Colchester Library – Wednesday 31st May: book here.

The workshop is open to up to 15 participants regardless of age (minors should be accompanied by their caregiver).

What to prepare for the workshop:

  • Select and bring family portraits, pictures, images of Essex and visual representation of view of the county
  • Select and bring local poems and literature
  • Think about oral, undocumented or family histories of Essex and the county which are often overlooked or undocumented through images and snapshots.

About Magnum Photos:

Magnum Photos is an artist’s cooperative, owned by its photographer members.

From the outset, Magnum Photos pioneered an experimental approach in the creation of an entrepreneurial, commercial platform for photojournalism. This evolved in direct dialogue with changing media and technologies and in parallel with artistic and personal use of the medium of photography. Today, the agency is uniquely positioned to redefine the concept of documentary through a wide range of personal, artistic and agency led commissions and production experiments.

Magnum Photos is committed to educating the next generation of independent visual storytellers from across the globe. As a microcosm of the photographic industry and with some 75 years of experience, Magnum Photos provides photographers at different stages in their careers with truly unique educational and professional development opportunities.


Bayryam Bayryamali(1997) is a London-based (Bulgarian)Turkish visual researcher, programmer and organiser. His practice deals with issues of new world (b)orders, il/legal identities in the Balkans and beyond. He is an Education Manager at Magnum Photos – a photography co-operative – and co-runs the Old Mountain Assembly – a programming space for worlding and futuring transitional and decolonial perspectives in South/East Europe.

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