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Magnum Credits Photography’s Most Famous Quote To an Aggressive Street Photographer by Mistake

Magnum Credits Photography’s Most Famous Quote To an Aggressive Street Photographer by Mistake

Robert Capa, founder of Magnum Photos, once famously said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” However, according to the Magnum website right now, these are the words of a street photographer with a reputation for being obnoxiously aggressive.

Eagle-eyed visitors to the Magnum website remain confused as credit for what is possibly one of photography’s most famous quotes is given to Bruce Gilden. Gilden is better known for phrases such as “I have no ethics,” “I have the right of way here,” and “I don’t care about the question.”

Magnum photos not close enough

Screenshot from

The Magnum Photo archive is currently offline but a cached page shows that the Magnum website describes Gilden as having a style that seeks to “apply Robert Capa’s mantra to his own work.” While Capa was famed for his proximity to war, Gilden is famed for his glee in taking people by surprise by putting a camera in their face. 

Magnum might be forgiven for getting confused about the words of one of its founding members and one of the world’s greatest photographers given that the agency recently hired a crisis management consultancy to help respond to allegations that one of its photographers produced indecent images of what may have been a child more than thirty years ago. Issues over keywording of images have also emerged, as well as the agency’s tendency to sell photographs of victims of child sexual abuse in which the children are identifiable.

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Alex Reiff's picture

Compared to the stuff you've been criticizing Magnum for the past couple weeks, this really seems like a non-issue. Considering that a number of commenters have accused you of having some sort of personal grudge against them, this doesn't really help.

Steve OfSeattle's picture

(and yeah.. who cares about a simple misattribution?)

Matthew Lacy's picture

I honestly see the name Magnum in a headline and assume it's written by Andy. I hadn't however heard the quote before, so it was an informative article despite the critism.

Carl Murray's picture

If its some social justice warrior issue, you can usually bet it's ol' Andy up on his soap box having a good old preach.

Rhonald Rose's picture

Andy strikes again!

Scott Kiekbusch's picture

Love the Capa quote, can't stand Gilden.

Darren Loveland's picture

Definitely seems like a personal grudge at this point...

Dorin Calugarean's picture

Oh God, he still goes on with this..

Les Sucettes's picture

Hey Andy, do you have a personal grudge against Magnum? Are you a disgruntled photojournalist perhaps who wasn’t considered Magnum worthy?

It did make me check your site!

Nope, you do commercial work. Your projects are travel shots. All good and nice but not the type of work that would be in Magnum - and I’m not making a judgement on quality!

So what is it?

Lawrence S's picture

Probably just site statistics showing that everyone is clicking on a title with "Magnum" in it. And commenting if there is something negative about it in the article. Are you not entertained?

Steve OfSeattle's picture

I like Bruce Gilden's work, and he doesn't seem exploitive to me, since from the few videos I've seen, he seems to build relationships with his more vulnerable subjects...

As for his aggressive street style, I can't say I'd have the cajones to act like that, but if he's staying inside the law it feels like a mere annoyance. I would personally not care that much if I were the subject, and if I did, I'd work to get the laws changed, not freak out about one guy with a camera.

I say if he's ready to deal with the reactions of [other] crazy people, then more power to him.

Hans Spruijt's picture

What a beautiful picture by Bruce Gilden!