Magnum is probably the most famous photo agency in the world. Even if you haven't heard of it, chances are you're familiar with its images, be they Robert Capa's coverage of the Spanish Civil War or Martin Parr's very British holiday-scapes. Unlike most agencies, Magnum's members are selected by the other photographers on the agency, so becoming a member is a gruelling process. As part of an ongoing partnership with Magnum, we've been profiling some of their photographers.
For this round of VICE Loves Magnum we spoke to Dominic Nahr, who – unlike previous interviewees – is still running the gauntlet of selection before becoming a full Magnum member. We discussed Africa's endless potential for stories, the eeriness of post-tsunami Japan and how a feeling of homelessness can be conducive to taking amazing photos.
VICE: As you’re one of the younger photographers we’ve spoken
to for the series, could you give me a rundown on how you got to where
you are, how you got into photography and your relationship with Magnum
Dominic Nahr: I got into photography when my mum gave me a camera. I have a memory so bad that I don’t remember any of my holidays with my parents, which is not good at all. So she told me to photograph things so I wouldn’t forget. I went to university and started to study film, but I didn’t like working with a bunch of people at that time. I wanted to figure out my vision and style on my own. I quit and went into photography.
My first assignment was for GQ magazine, France – they called me while I was on my bicycle in Toronto where I studied and I almost fell off. Arnaud, the photo editor, was like, "You want to do an assignment in New York?" I said, "I don’t understand – what do you want me to do?", and he’s like, "Do whatever you do." That was the first assignment that I got and kind of like a key moment where I was like, OK cool, this job really exists.
So I started taking more pictures and right after university, in 2008, I got picked up by an agency called L'Oeil Public, who were amazing. The agency closed down in 2009, I joined them in their last year of existence. They were supportive and suggested I go to eastern Congo. I'd never been to Africa before, and I covered the war there. My pictures really moved and many magazines picked them up. I even got an exhibition during Visa pour l’image in Perpignan, which really helped a lot. I think that kind of opened people's eyes to my work and led me finally to Magnum. I'm entering my fourth year with them now.