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Renowned photo agency Magnum Photos launches first NFT collection to the world

(Image credit: Stuart Franklin / Magnum Photos.)

If you are serious about photography then you have more than likely heard of the infamous photographic agency Magnum Photos, and if not, then it is more than likely you have seen one of their photographers' work that you liked.

Now celebrating 75 years of being in business, Magnum Photos has for the first time launched an NFT collection (opens in new tab), calling it an unprecedented step in the future of photography.

Balloons frame children springing through the sky on an elastic fun ride in Darling harbour. Darling harbour is a popular tourist area of Sydney, 2000 (Image credit: Trent Parke/Magnum Photos)

 A clown at a lunch counter in a diner, Reno, Nevada, 1963 (Image credit: Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos.)

In a press release Magnum Photos said:

"From the first 35mm images to be printed in the global press, to the rise of the moving image, to our virtual relationships in the digital age, Magnum photographers have lived through over seven decades of change, adapting to and embracing modern mediums to enhance their work. These past few years have been no exception, with constant shifts in how we consume photography, art and news, and from the ever-expanding grasps of technology, a new medium has now emerged—NFTs."

As part of the 75 year celebrations for the company, and keeping with tradition of embracing the culture of photography the agency has now launched its first collection of NFTs, with three selections of 75 images from the agency's historic and continually-growing archive. Each selection is curated in dialogue with leading figures in photography from across the globe.

NFTs have quite a mixed opinion within the photographic community, with some photographers not only collecting them but also selling their own and making a lot of money off their work. Other photographers are more dubious, and feel that a physical print is a much better investment.

While I am completely terrified of the idea of NFTs and think the community is a bit one-sided, when someone like Magnum steps into the realm of NFTs it makes you take notice, and clearly they see this as a good way to make money with their archive and for the photographers under the Magnum Photos umbrella.

Actors Gong Li (center), Leslie Cheung (left) and Kevin Lin (right) during the making of the film Temptress Moon directed by Chen Kaige, 1996 (Image credit: Patrick Zachmann/Magnum Photos)

Stock exchange, Hong Kong, 1996 (Image credit: Hiroji Kubota/Magnum Photos)

The first selection has been curated by Alejandro Cartagena, photographer and co-founder of Obscura.io, a community of artists, collectors, curators, and builders with a mission to empower photographers in the Web3 ecosystem. The Magnum 75 curation follows on from an existing partnership between Obscura and Magnum, in which eight photographers were commissioned to produce exclusive NFT photographs (opens in new tab).

The first selection has now been revealed in full via the NFT marketplace Foundation. It features both classic and contemporary images from across the 75-year archive, with the likes of Patrick Zachmann, Stuart Franklin, Olivia Arthur, and Alec Soth.

Olivia Arthur, photographer and President of Magnum, added:

“The world of NFTs is new, exciting and in some ways daunting for an organization that has been going for 75 years. As with every development in the photographic landscape, we are keen to learn, experiment and understand what the prospects are for blockchain technology and how it can be integrated into the way that we share work. I believe that these tools will become extremely important to the photographic industry more broadly and I am very excited to be part of this first official step into the world of NFTs by Magnum.”

NFTs are a weird and possibly, wonderful place for creators to sell their work to keep them doing personal project they like creating, but that's if they sell! I am openly not the most positive on NFTs, but there are plenty out there who are and being able to "own" a piece of Magnum history might be appealing to those within this space. 

Whatever side of the fence you sit on with NFTs, you can be sure that with the force Magnum Photos holds across the photographic community it will likely be a worthwhile venture.

Read more:

What are NFTs (opens in new tab)
How I make money with NFTs (opens in new tab)
Selling photos as NFTs (opens in new tab)

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Sebastian Oakley

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.