The Women of Magnum

 "If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument"
- Eve Arnold

A Lama in New York by Inge Morath
A Lama in New York by Inge Morath (credit: Magnum Photos)

From Magnum's first ladies, Eve Arnold and Inge Morath, to the new "nominee" members who are redressing the gender balance at the agency, women have had a small but important part to play in Photography's most famous institution.  

Marilyn Monroe by Eve Arnold
Marilyn Monroe Resting by Eve Arnold (credit: Magnum Photos)

Listed below are the current female members of Magnum. We will be covering the stories of some of these talented ladies over the coming months: check back here for updates.

  • Eve Arnold, American, 1912 - 2012.
    • Joined Magnum in 1951, became a full member in 1957.
  • Inge Morath, Austrian / American, 1923 - 2002.
    • Joined Magnum in 1953, became a full member in 1955
  • Marilyn Silverstone, American, 1929 - 1990.
    • Became an Associate Member in 1964, a full member in 1967 and a Contributor in 1975
  • Susan Meiselas, American, born 1948.
    • Became a full member in 1976
  • Martine Franck, Belgian, 1938 - 2012.
    • Became a full member in 1980
  • Alessandra Sanguinetti, American, born 1968.
    • Became a full member in 2007
  • Cristina Garcia Rodero, Spanish, born 1949.
    • Joined Magnum in 2005, became a full member in 2009
  • Olivia Arthur, British, born 1980.
    • Became a full member in 2013
  • Bieke Depoorter, Belgian, born 1986.
    • Became a Nominee in 2012 and a full member in 2016
  • Carolyn Drake, American, born 1971.
    • Joined as a Nominee in 2015, became an Associate 2017 and a full member 2019
  • Newsha Tavakolian, Iranian, born 1981.
    • Joined as a Nominee in 2015, became an Associate 2017 and a full member 2019
  • Cristina de Middel, Spanish, born 1975.
    • Joined as a Nominee in 2017, became an Associate 2019
  • Sim Chi Yin, Singaporean, born 1978
    • Joined as a Nominee in 2018
  • Nanna Heitmann, German / Russian, born 1994
    • Joined as a Nominee in 2019


Bargirl, Havana by Eva Arnold
Bargirl, Havana, Cuba, 1954 by Eva Arnold (credit: Magnum photos)

So what does it take to become a full member of the prestigious Magnum Photos?

The 4-year process starts with Magnum will putting out a request for applications. The agency is a co-operative, run by its members. Each year they meet to discuss the organisation's affairs and during this weekend a day is set aside for reviewing potential new members' portfolios. The members will vote and successful applicants will be invited to become a "Nominee Member". 

This gives Nominees the chance for them to get to know Magnum and for Magnum members to get to know them. There's no binding commitments on either side in this category of membership. 

After 2 years, the Nominees can apply to become Associate Members by submitting a further portfolio of work. It's at this stage they get access to the full facilities on offer by its offices and worldwide representation and are bound by all the rules and responsibilities of the agency. 

A further portfolio of work can be presented for consideration 2 years later, the acceptance of these leads to the election to Full Membership, an accolade that lasts a lifetime. 

Finally, Full Members can become 'Contributors'after 23 years with the agency.

Magnum Estate Members is a category set aside for founding members or deceased photographers who's archives and posthumous projects contribute to Magnum's huge and important legacy. 

Acceptance to Magnum is generally only enjoyed by one or two photographers each year but in 2015, 6 new Nominees were accepted, including 2 females. 

Submissions for each year generally close in January of the year of entry. 


Chang An Avenue, Beijing by Inge Morath 
Chang An Avenue, Beijing, China, 1978 by Inge Morath (credit: Magnum Photos)