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Magnum Workshop 2019 – Evaluations

The Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center and the Magnum Photos made a workshop for professional photographers in Budapest between December 09 and 13, 2019. During the Budapest Portfolio Review six photographers got a scholarship and the chance to take part in the workshop for free: Máté Bartha, Kata Geibl, Olga Kocsi, Adél Koleszár, Zsófia Sivák, Éva Boglárka Zellei. Read their evaluations below.

Máté Bartha

In such a workshop, one of the key benefits is that you can focus on one thing for a whole week, even if that time may not be sufficient for producing a complete piece of work. The project I decided to work on had already been prepared for some months; and workshop leaders Bieke and Peter and I managed to discuss it in a very meaningful way. Within the five days allotted, I focused on making some specific pictures and sorting out the existing ones. The participants had diverse background and agenda, and it was particularly exciting to receive unusual comments and remarks from their new perspectives. The final exhibit was sorted out efficiently and in a timely manner – within a few hours, the space got filled with a substantial and coherent set of photographic material linked together by the location: Budapest. All in all, it was a very good experience and I managed to develop the project I selected through a lot of new ideas and photos.

Photo: © Máté Bartha


Kata Geibl

The days of the workshop were all very inspiring. Bieke and Peter encouraged everyone to unleash their potential, always keeping in mind the individuality and vision of the particular photographer. They were not afraid to formulate constructive criticism either. I had many fruitful conversations during the few days of the workshop.

Photo: © Kata Geibl


Olga Kocsi

Over the course of the intense one-week work, I was preparing some new material. My initial concept changed with the focus shifting from hospitals to Rózsa mama. I got a photo booklet as a result, together with an installation assembled of the negatives taken of this ninety-four-year-old lady, whose dream – the walk of the sinister cat – I brought to life. I worked with digital and instax, and then glued the pictures into a small black book, creating the booklet.

Rózsa mama looked after me and my sibling many times when we were kids. Unfortunately, she was hospitalized last Easter and she has been there ever since. I visit her regularly.

Photo: © Olga Kocsi


Adél Koleszár

Bieke and Peter were acting in an open and energetic way throughout the week, helping us in every way and providing us with great advice. Bieke’s works generally contain a great deal of texts that go very well with each other; hence I thought that during the workshop I could benefit from her experience and try to put together a subjective work based on emotions that could convey something meaningful to the viewer with her help. I think this is quite a delicate topic in photography with a lot of pitfalls. I continued an ongoing project which consisted of parallel images and texts on memory, recollection, past, and present.

I think that Bieke and Peter complemented each other in a great manner, on the one hand representing a more intuitive approach and a focus on facts and politics in photography; and, on the other hand, letting everyone take the direction they were most curious about. Their critical remarks and feedback were very helpful, and the Q&A morning session – when we got a lot of information about Magnum and their working methods that otherwise we might have only learned through personal discussions – was also very exciting.

Photo: © Adél Koleszár


Zsófia Sivák

As for me, our continuous consultation was the biggest help. I found the ideas of Bieke Depoorter and Peter Van Agtmael extremely useful both with regards to technique and content. They made me look at my own pictures from completely new perspectives. The international team was also inspirational. It is always interesting to see what kind of group dynamics develops among people from completely different countries and different cultural background, and to observe how they respond (through pictures) to a particular problem raised.

Photo: © Zsófia Sivák


Boglárka Éva Zellei

I would like to use this channel to express my gratefulness for this opportunity one more time; I gained a great deal of new experience in many areas. I think the participants were a bit too numerous, but I enjoyed the diversity of their company. It was interesting to see the enthusiasm and desire for growth in people who were predominantly coming from other professions. I was encouraged to share my knowledge and be more spontaneous in taking pictures. At first, Bieke and Peter both asked me to set aside my insistence on my preconceptions while photographing, and on the second day, I was challenged with an even more demanding task: they advised me to take portraits, which I had always found very difficult. The personal experiences they shared with me, especially Bieke’s, helped me greatly, but they also pounced on my first pictures with ruthless criticism. Although it was a big challenge to switch to a new working method, once I had my first and only positive portrait-taking experience, something snapped within me, and following their remarks, I really managed to work in a more intuitive way, trying out different lighting, scenery and visual settings. Those two days’ time was quite short for a complete photo shoot, but it gave me a clear impetus to act firmly but empathically as a photographer, and as a person. I think that they provided almost everyone with personalized advice that helped them become more self-aware. However, due to the excessive number of people, the participants did not have enough time for real teamwork, and basically just listened to each other’s presentations and consulting sessions. This has been somewhat remedied by the scheduled informal meetings. I also felt that during the individual consultations the decisions made were often one-sided, and there was no time for initiating true dialogues. I only experienced togetherness during the installation, when we could eventually talk about our processes, but for many people, I only saw their final works and had no chance to connect to them. But in all that rush, Bieke’s and Peter’s determination and speed came in handy. Overall, the workshop was well organized, and we could ask Shannon and Alma for help at any time and communicate with each other. It was very thought-provoking to learn about the professional and personal challenges Bieke and Peter have to face and to see the creative practices of two exceptionally self-aware artists.

Photo: © Boglárka Éva Zellei

Magnum Workshop 2019