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Magnum Contact Sheets

Kristen Lubben


An extraordinary record of great photographs being captured, edited and made

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Few photography books can lay claim to being truly groundbreaking. The first edition of Magnum Contact Sheets was one of them. This exceptional book, presented here in a new, accessible and democratically priced format for the first time, reveals how Magnum photographers capture and edit the very best shots. Addressing key questions of photographic practice - was the final image a set-up, or a serendipitous encounter; did the photographer work diligently to extract the potential from a situation, or was the fabled 'decisive moment' at play? - this book lays bare the creative methods, strategies and editing processes behind some of the world's most iconic images.

139 contact sheets, representing 69 photographers, are featured, as well as zoom-in details, selected photographs, press cards, notebooks and spreads from contemporary publications, including Life magazine and Picture Post. Further insight into each contact sheet is provided by texts written by the photographers themselves or by experts chosen by members' estates.

Many acknowledged greats of photography are included, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliot Erwitt and Inge Morath, as well as Magnum's latest generation, such as Jonas Bendiksen, Alessandra Sanguinetti and Alec Soth. These photographers cover over seventy years of history, from the Normandy landings by Robert Capa, the Paris riots of 1968 by Bruno Barbey and war in Chechnya by Thomas Dworzak to images of Che Guevara by Rene Burri, Malcolm X by Eve Arnold and clasic New Yorkers by Bruce Gilden.

This landmark book, published just as the shift to digital photography threatens to render the contact sheet obsolete, celebrates the sheet as artifact, as personal and historic record, as invaluable editing tool, and as a fascinating way of accompanying great photographers as they work towards, and capture, the most enduring images of our time.

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'Exemplary ... stunningly beautiful'
Geoff Dyer, Observer

'Utterly absorbing. To be able to follow dozens upon dozens of the most recognised images of the 20th century backwards through the selection process gives these pictures a new immediacy and vitality ... fascinating and surprisingly intimate'
John Banville, Daily Telegraph

'Magnificent ... every compelling image gives us an intimate and exciting sense of walking alongside the photographer'
RA Magazine

'A treasure trove'
Andrew Motion, Guardian

'A fascinating book that can not only be enjoyed for itself but can be utilised as a great learning tool for the most difficult task of all – picture editing'
Black & White Photography

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 29.3 x 24.0 cm

Extent: 524 pp

Illustrations: 446

Publication date: 9 March 2017

ISBN: 9780500292914

About the Author

Kristen Lubben, former longtime curator at the International Center of Photography, is now executive director of the Magnum Foundation.

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