Theory & Practice

14 Photographic Stories from Magnum’s Mentees

Photographers who received mentorship from Magnum photographers present their long-term projects

No matter what stage a photographer is at in their practice, exposure to informed guidance and critique is of vital importance for shaping projects of all kinds, as Magnum photographers recently told us. For the first iteration of Magnum’s Long Term Mentorship, Gregory Halpern and Alessandra Sanguinetti gave their support and feedback to 16 photographers over the course of seven months. Here, we take a look at 12 of the projects these artists produced.

Matt Black and Susan Meiselas lead Magnum’s upcoming 2021 Long Term Mentorship scheme. Find out more about what to expect from the two mentors, and sign up, here.

Puvadol Saengvichien Painter Joom and his crew finishing up a mural. From the project 'Nothing but a Dream'

Nothing but a Dream – Puvadol Saengvichien

Nothing but a Dream conveys my observations and contemplation on the facets of the on-going changes that have happened in Pattaya, one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, through the ups and downs of its economic situation.

I want to use photography to explore the realm of dreams and the overlapping territory between fiction and reality in our everyday life. I made a life-changing decision to leave my 18-year corporate career behind and immersed myself in photography, to answer very human questions that were personal to my self-discovery.  Puvadol Saengvichien is on Instagram at @pudols

Marius Ionut Scarlat

Where dogs don’t bark  — Marius Ionut Scarlat 

Due to the relationship that I have had with alcohol over many years, I have hardly had an emotional connection with my uncle Gigi. I left Romania when I was 11 years old, and every time I came back, I tried to avoid meeting him when he was drunk. My uncle has never been married and has no children. He depends on my grandmother for practically everything. My grandmother takes care of the housework, prepares the food and is his main economic support thanks to her pension. Follow Marius Ionut Scarlat on Instagram at @mariusionut25.

Sam Finegold 'K93-917'. From the project One Wish A Year.

One Wish A Year – Sam Finegold

My project, One Wish A Year, examines the difficulties of being honest with the people whom we love the most. This series started as a way for me to explore the feelings of grief and loss that I’ve experienced as an adoptee. I began by making self-portraits to parse through the emotions that I’ve often been afraid to express. Over the last three years, I’ve started to photograph the rest of my family as well. In doing so, I’ve observed a group of people who are filled with love but struggle to communicate with each other. This series grapples with the complexities that feed into this struggle, acknowledging the ways in which they impact our identities, mental health, and relationships. Follow Sam Finegold on Instagram at @k93_917.

Karl Petzke 'Uma & Jingle P04'. From the project DANDELION.

DANDELION – Karl Petzke

The journey into and through adolescence is a life-changing experience. It is a long-term traverse, a number of years lived exploring, and a stage of life rarely appreciated at the time. As a father of a teenage daughter imbedded in the associated web of emotions, there is a growing sense of separation and of simultaneously and unknowingly being pulled closer. I chose to embrace this changing landscape, which started with a worldwide pandemic, the isolation of online school and the new unfamiliar horizons of a teenager’s daily life. I felt it was important to photograph my daughter in the moment before time became a memory loose with interpretation. With these images, stairs become challenges, forests are unknown journeys and portraits the unconscious pathways into moods and interior thoughts. There is beauty to this long-term project in that it is the journey, not the arrival which will be appreciated most. Karl Petzke is on Instagram at @petzpix.

Dave Lane 'The Revealing Image'. From the project Once Bitten.

Once Bitten Dave Lane

Once Bitten is about the early stages of my relationship with my partner Henrietta, who I met in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. I chose to focus on this project for the mentorship because this romance gave me a new perspective on what it means to be intimate with another person and I wanted to photograph from this vantage. Living alone throughout the first lockdown has taught me that this level of closeness should not be taken for granted. Dave Lane is on Instagram at @davelanesnaps.

Federico Quintana From the project Sergei.

Sergei, Social Distortion – Federico Quintana

This work explores the challenges of two musicians facing the effects of the lockdown phases in Italy. It examines their lives and emotions while they are confined in the oppressive walls of their homes.

In Sergei, the dramatic situation is emphasized by an emergency surgery; although sick, the subject of the story begins illegal smuggling across the nearby Balkanic border in order to sustain himself, and as an act of rebellion in midst of the chaos.

In Social Distortion, the protagonist lives an inner conflict fuelled by his fear of old age. Continuous confrontation with memories and objects from his youth torment his innermost emotions. Find Federico Quintana on Instagram at @federicomquintana.

Kris Davidson Lecture room at the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico.

The American Imagination – Kris Davidson

The American Imagination considers unresolved tensions within America’s still young storytelling tradition. In the last few years, I have been using regional myths, tall tales and legends as entry points to explore how fantastical storytelling gives shape to both individual and national identity. Often disguised as entertainment, fantastical stories are especially adept at addressing unspeakable pain, holding the fears and aspiration of a time and place. They allow for hyperbole in celebrating triumphs, and provide an analgesic buffer in making sense of tragedies. Kris Davidson is on Instagram at @hellokrisdavidson.

Herman Ellis Dyal 'School Spirit'. From the project As Is.

As is: – Herman Ellis Dyal

I’ve been spending time in San Antonio — the city of my ancestors and family — revisiting its neighborhoods, public spaces, and surrounding countryside. I’m taking the time to reflect on my enduring emotional attachment to this place, all while seeking to reconcile my childhood memories with present reality. I’m taking pictures of all that I remember, but as it is now. Herman Ellis Dyal is on Instagram at @hermandyal.

Angie Terrell From the project In the Sun That is Young Once Only.

In the Sun That is Young Once Only – Angie Terrell

Over the last year and a half, I have been photographing candid and inspired moments with my daughter and many of the kids on our street in Atlanta.

Over this time, I watched as they created a golden age of childhood for themselves during the Covid pandemic, when most children were forced to be inside and isolated.

For everyone, the COVID pandemic brought upon a roller coaster of emotions, virtual schooling, isolation from our relatives, sickness, loss of jobs, and so much more. But the surprise of our lifetime was the community that our children forged on behalf of all of us, because they didn’t know any other way. And like all parents, our hope is that they remember this time as not an end of innocence, but a beginning.

As Dylan Thomas writes in Fern Hill:

In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means

Find Angie Terrell on Instagram at @angieterrell.

Yu Yu 'Wonderland in the City'. From the project Gila River.

Gila River – Yu Yu

Gila River is a body of water that drains dry before the halfway point in its journey through the southwest of the United States. The main reasons for this are its usage in irrigation and the droughts of the desert. In 2019, it was listed as one of the most endangered rivers in the US. In October 2020, I started going to different places along the river to capture the moments involving people, unique views of the surrounding towns, as well as the rise and fall of the river. Yu Yu is on Instagram at @Bittercandy_photo.

Catherine Symens-Bucher Chiara, Punchbowl, Oahu Hawaii, 2016. From the project 'the deer lay down'

the deer lay down – Catherine Symens-Bucher

Six years ago I began photographing my family and the shared space we inhabit on the land where we grew up and currently still reside. It started as a way for me to process the loss of my childhood by documenting objects left behind in my family garden. From there I turned my lens towards the members of my family, curious about my family’s lineage, traditions, dynamics, and the fragility and strength of our interdependence. Catherine Symens-Bucher is on Instagram at @catherinesymensbucher.

Brian Yanez Pennsylvania, 2021. From the project Of Many Strands.

Of Many Strands – Brian Yanez

My project is inspired by three books I read during the pandemic.  The authors of each book used writing to combat their own disillusion with the fractured societies of their time and were determined to show that our differences and individual cares are the essence of what unites us as citizens and humans. I’m attempting to carry these ideas forward through photography. Find Brian Yanez on Instagram at @_brianyanez.

Torn Apart – Phillipe Gold

I have been walking the streets of Paris alone, mostly, since I was a kid. Even nights. My father was super lenient and let me loiter when I stayed at his place on week-ends. I walked under the metro, from the junkiesʼ places to Pigalle, our red light district, crossing Barbès with its oriental shops open late. I wish I had a camera then. My purpose today is to catch up! Find Phillipe Gold on Instagram at


List of Sins – Trent Munson 

When my older brother, Trevor, committed suicide in 2014 he left behind a one year old daughter and a family questioning why this had happened. I use this event to explore the dark sides of family and how past trauma continues to manifest itself back into reality.

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