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.”
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.