Magnum Continued to Sell Photographs of Vulnerable Children, Including Sexually Explicit Images

Magnum Continued to Sell Photographs of Vulnerable Children, Including Sexually Explicit Images

Three months after announcing an inquiry into its archive, it emerged that Magnum Photos was still selling sexually explicit images of what appear to be children through third-party websites. An image of a half-naked child playing with their genitals was also available for purchase. Further images described as “juvenile prostitutes” were still for sale on the Magnum website itself until they were removed on Friday.

Magnum temporarily took its archive offline in August and a number of images by photographer David Alan Harvey were withdrawn. Shortly afterwards, Magnum’s president, Olivia Arthur, announced an internal review. Despite this, Harvey’s sexually explicit photographs — tagged “teenage girl - 13 to 18” — were this week still available for purchase through third-party websites that license the photographs from Magnum.

Update: As of November 12, the photos have been removed from at least one of the third-party sites in question.

These images were available to purchase on Monday, November 9. Several were taken by David Alan Harvey and were previously removed from Magnum's own website in August 2020.

This photograph taken by David Alan Harvey shows a topless female subject standing over the photographer. When found on the Magnum website in August, keywords in the metadata included "teenage girl - 13 to 18 years," "prostitute," and "breast."

This photograph by David Alan Harvey of a child selling flowers was removed from Magnum's website in August but remained for sale through a third-party website. The image includes the caption "child prostitute."

A number of images by Patrick Zachmann appear to have been removed from Magnum’s archive on Friday afternoon (November 6) after concerns were raised on Twitter.

Perhaps most problematic is a photograph by Zachmann that shows a young child (described by the metadata as 0-3 years old), drinking from a bottle of milk, naked from the waist down, and holding his penis. The image is accompanied by the title “FRANCE. Paris. Summer 2001” and is presented without further context. It was available to purchase without any restrictions until it was removed from the Magnum website on Friday November 6, but it remained available to purchase as of Monday November 9 through a third-party website.

Screenshot taken on November 9 of the Magnum website.

Three images featured identifiable children photographed in 1993 during a police raid in Thailand on what is described in the caption as a “‘gay’ beach.” Several photographs describe the children — whose faces are visible — as “juvenile prostitutes.”

Screenshot from Magnum website taken on November 9. The highlighted images show identifiable children, potentially under eleven years old, some of whom are clearly distressed.

In the U.K., victims of sexual offenses must be kept anonymous in order to protect the victim from the potential of further trauma. It is now widely understood that children cannot be “prostitutes” but are instead victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Another of Zachmann’s photographs from Thailand shows identifiable girls that are described as “young prostitutes” in the image’s metadata, with the keywords “child employment” contained in the keywords.

Screenshot from Adobe Bridge showing the metadata from a photograph downloaded from the Magnum website on November 9, 2020.

When asked about the removal of images from its archive last week and the continued presence of problematic images on third-party websites, Magnum provided the following statement:

Magnum announced earlier this year that we were embarking on a re-examination of our past archives, with outside guidance.

Progress has already been made, but with almost one million images sitting across many different platforms and millions more tags amassed across our 73 year history, this was never going to be a quick process.

Everyone at Magnum remains committed to ensuring we carefully examine our archives to ensure we fully understand the implications of past work, both in terms of imagery and context.

Images and tags that have been found to be inappropriate have been removed, but there remains much work to be done. This is a journey with plenty of road ahead of us.

Magnum photographers are assisting by looking at their own archives and highlighting any problematic images. We are also grateful to others outside the organisation who have brought to our attention additional materials that the review has not yet addressed.

To be clear, Magnum is a rights-managed business and images are not licensed without the express permission of photographers and the company. We often refuse requests to license sensitive images and we always require them to be used responsibly in appropriate context as part of our usage agreement.

When asked previously, Magnum offered no comment on whether it had appointed the outside guidance mentioned in its statement on August 14. It also would not comment on whether it has been in contact with law enforcement.

In August, Magnum explained that while its inquiry into Harvey’s photographs was ongoing, the assumption that Harvey's photographs might feature sexually exploited children was not correct. “It seems that at some point mis-tagging of these photos has led you to a mistaken conclusion that they represent something they do not,” Magnum stated in an email. The spokesperson for Magnum clarified that “the review remains ongoing and Magnum has not reached a conclusion or made an assertion.”

Last month, in a separate issue relating to a historical accusation, Harvey was suspended by Magnum for one year following an investigation. A statement posted on the Magnum website explained that the investigation was carried out “by an independent investigator, Magnum’s board, with the assistance of outside legal counsel” and has “concluded that the behaviour represented a breach of its code of conduct and by-laws.”

Magnum has repeatedly refused to make its code of conduct public, stating that it is a confidential document.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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yes, let's completely erase the fact that savages exist... everyone, find some sand in which to stick your heads.

That is not the point of the article at all.

Porn cannot (by law in most jurisdictions) involve a child. Porn is not illegal because the adults involved are legally able to give consent, but if a child is involved it cannot be called 'porn' because children cannot give consent, it is therefore rape, or 'indecent images of a child' and there is a significant weight of law that can be brought to bear as a consequence. Does that clarify it for you?

Seems like you're the one missing Ivan's point here, Willy.

Which was?

*Sees magnum in the title*
*Checked to see if its written by Andy Day*

This dude is OBSESSED.

So I take it from your comment that you see no problem at all with images (of vulnerable children) being taken (by older men), labelled as 'child' and 'prostitute' so they can be searched for and sold online, and this done often without the permission of the child/parent?

No, Willy, that's not what you can take from his comment at all. Nice try though.

Are you a spokesman for all the other contributors?

Are you the spokesperson for Andy, Willy?
Or are you just Andy, Willy?

My goodness, are you completely unable to imagine that other people are interested in this issue from a professional perspective?

What was Ivan's point? I think you were going to explain it to me, and then Carl's.

Joe: You could be right, it might be Andy Day on an alternate account. ALL of their comments are on Andy Days articles, most of which are are about sexual exploitation and magnum, and they're all wildly in defence of the author, by and large.

I comment on how Andy Day has an obsession with this subject, and you somehow twist that to mean anyone who thinks Andy Days obsession is weird and unhealthy means they support what is essentially child abuse/child porn.

I could make the similar assumptions that, as you are capable of connecting to wildly different things, that you are a moron. However, unlike your mental leap of a deduction, mine has some pretty solid proof: your brain dead comments.

Tldr: You are an idiot.

I'm not Andy, but if it makes it easier for you to insult other commentators by assuming that, thats your prerogative.

Re your comments about Andy - I'm not sure I understand what is "weird and unhealthy" about trying to ensure child welfare and prevent abuse in a profession you are a part of? I'm really not following your 'logic' here.

This is really simple. The issue is that Magnum are selling images that show exploited children. Period. When called out, they apparently close their website and take them down.

Now, you either disagree with that appraoch to exploiting children, and think its not acceptable and needs challenging and are happy to call them out about it and force change. Or you agree with what they do and think its not a problem and will gladly support that way of working.

Which is it?

PS your ad hominem attacks on me reveal a woeful lack of real engagement with this issue.


Well, this is NOT an issue about "(child porn, women/minorities underrepresented, etc.)" The issue here is that (western) men are taking images of children and selling them for profit, but also by doing so and from a position of considerable influence, setting an example within a particular field of work as to what is deemed 'acceptable'.

Making a profit from images of exploited children is not acceptable (it simply further exploits them), but also, some of the images (with their accompanying captions and keywords) that have been mentioned here would be (in the strictest sense of the word) 'unlawful' in many jurisdictions.

"Knowing these things exist, so merely calling it out doesn't achieve anything" - it does actually. Since this has been publicised Magnum has removed (some of) the offending material.

I think you need to be clear in your mind about the separation of the activities that these children are involved in, from the activity of the photographers/agencies profiting from them.

No we cannot do very much about the states of poverty these children are living in, although supporting charities that work with them to seek alternative life opportunities is a useful way to do some good.

But we can do something about the (western) agencies taking images of these children, with clearly identifiable faces, labelled 'child' and 'prostitute' and 'sex worker' which not only encoursges sex tourism, (and people taking more images of the same type) but which can adversely affect the lives of the individuals portrayed as they (hopefully) move on from this type of work.

Its a complicated situation. But one that arguably needs aired and discussed.

As a professional involved in the fields of both Photography and Welfare/Social Work with more than 40 years of experience I'd rather encourage practitioners to undertake their work with more consideration for their subjects, and signal to aspirant photographers that there are 'appropriate' ways of working that help people's lives rather than hinder them. Taking a picture and selling it, of a person whose life is a struggle, often does not help them in any way at all.

Its that simple.

And complex. :-)

Thanks for the considered response James.

That would be because I'm not engaged with the issue. At all.

I'm not even really discussing the subject of the article. I'm discussing the AUTHOR, and their behaviour. Somehow you seemed to miss that important detail.

It isn't your narrow minded "only two options" approach. It's that Andy Day OBSESSIVELY writes about this, and similar subjects. Check his article history, at some point it becomes a creepy pattern.

Anyway, it's been real, but I have grown bored of discussing this with you.

Peach out, Andy.

Its quite something when anyone who reports on and calls out images of child exploitation is deemed to be "obsessed" by someone who professes "no engagement with the issue. At all."

"I have grown bored of discussing this with you." But you've not offered any discussion about the issue at hand, instead (apparently, as a diversion) you make ad hominem attacks on other commentators.

That tells me all I need to know about you and your priorities (which obviously dont include child welfare issue). I think thats a real shame.

Enjoy your peach, and the pits.

*sigh* grew up being abused, so I don't really feel the need to surround myself in discourse about child abuse. I lived that shit. So, like, y'all can shove your preaching riiiiiight up your butt hole. Just stick it right up there, and lodge it in somewhere.

It's mostly that I am bored of discussing it with you specifically, buddy. It's not me, it's you. And yes, take that personally.

Lmao, bye, nerd.