Magnum Photos Is Selling Images of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse on Its Website

Magnum Photos Is Selling Images of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse on Its Website

The archive of Magnum Photos features numerous photographs of child sex workers, many of whom were photographed without their knowledge. Several of these photographs are sexually explicit, featuring nudity and encounters with clients. These images may constitute acts of child sexual abuse.

The photographs emerged as part of research into the number of results that Magnum Photos website returns when searching for “girl” and “prostitute.” Several images taken by Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey are part of a body of work entitled “THAILAND. Bangkok. 1989. Thai prostitutes.” Perhaps the most problematic image features a topless girl wearing only underwear. The image is shot from the point of view of the photographer who seems to be on a bed which the girl is approaching. The girl’s face is not obscured and she is smiling at the photographer. The keyword tags for the photograph include “Prostitute,” “Breast,” and “Teenage girl - 13 to 18 years.”

A screengrab showing a crop of one of the more problematic images.

Some of the photographs in Magnum’s archive have a restriction attached stating that they “can only be used in a context and with a caption which legally would not be considered as prejudicial to any recognizable person.” Alan Harvey’s explicit photographs of child sex workers do not have this restriction.

Creating a sexually explicit photograph of a child constitutes an act of child sexual abuse. Under U.K. law, if a photograph exists, a crime has been committed. In the U.S, Federal law prohibits the production, distribution, importation, reception, or possession of any image of child pornography. (Advocacy groups often prefer to avoid using the word “pornography,” as it could give the impression that the imagery was created with the subject’s consent — something a child cannot give.)

In Thailand, it is illegal to pay for sex with anyone under the age of 18. It is not clear what Alan Harvey was doing in the room photographing what appears to be a child wearing only underwear that he identified as a sex worker.

The Magnum Photos website contains more than one hundred images of child sex workers — many of them identifiable — from around the world. Numerous photographs appear to have been taken without the subject’s consent.

Magnum Photos responded: “Like many in the photographic industry, we are re-examining our past archives as we are aware there is material that may be inappropriate. Magnum has accumulated almost one million images over its 73-year history, and we are committed to making this a comprehensive process.”

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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Searching for “girl” and “prostitute.” What a weird interest & occupation...

What is the goal of this article? To "cancel" a groundbreaking photographer for work he did 30 years ago? To generate false moral outrage (and clicks) about his intentions and imply he was involved in illegal acts? Why would we conflate sexual abuse with photojournalism that contributed to the awareness, criminalization, and reduction of child prostitution in South East Asia?

I was about to post, but you wrote it for me. Thanks.

I don't see anything illegal with the picture above. Don't bring down a company just because of hunches. No pix, fake.

You can tell based on the partial caption below the image that most of it was cropped out. No author in their right mind would repost child pornography to add credence to an article.

Journalism is about uncovering issues like abuse. You do realise that?

If so, is it an issue of misclassification of restrictions?

You just made it sound like the journalist was conducting abuse

You use word "pornography" quite loosely... Do you really think, photos on Magnum are pornographic?

Is this also some kind of porn for you?

The photographer should’ve been shot on the spot by those men in uniform in the back... for this porn photograph


I actually do want to understand what the deeper problem is and what Fstoppers position is.

In the 70ies did people know how rampant child prostitution is? If not, didn’t the photojournalist help uncover it with his photographs?

I mean certainly it would be weird to sell the image as something you would hang on the walls of a living room. But for a gallery? What if the gallery was specialised on improving the life’s of children?

What the heck is this about? A misclassification? Or cancelation?

Are you serious??? Man, it's Magnum, they're journalists.

This articel is complete nonsense. Magnum photographers are journalists and documenting the world - the bad and the good. Those photographers contributing and keeping real photography alive in an age everybody thinks he is a photographer. After viewing Andy Days website you can see - he is not a photographer - He is just doing crap like most photographers today (me including as an ad photographer). And also the platform fstoppers is doing nothing for photography - senseless reviews and product placements and words words words... but nothing really has to do with photography... So let those photographers who are documenting our world and keeping these documents for following generations do their work.


As strange as it may sound in the modern world, today there really is such a problem and it needs to be solved. I was shocked when I read the article with which must read each of you. As for the important problem of trafficking in persons, it has not only increased many times in the 21st century, but also led to an increase in the number of other related crimes. This is a very sad reality, but there is no country on earth that is protected from the sex trade.