Some of the world's greatest photographers share the images that changed their lives

Magnum photosStuart Franklin/Magnum PhotosStuart Franklin famously photographed the protests at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, in 1989.

Magnum Photos is an international cooperative co-owned by some of the world’s most lauded photographers.

To celebrate its 68th annual general meeting, the group’s head of e-commerce Martin Fuchs asked each member to identify “an image that changed everything” — one that represents a turning point in their lives as visual artists.

More than 50 photographers submitted images and the stories that go with them. The result is this stunning collection, which you can take home for just $US100 per print from now until June 12.

Check them out now and be sure to look below the images to read the full story behind them.

Stuart Franklin, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, 1989

'This is an image that changed everything because, for me, it crystallised the spirit of revolt. The uprising in Tiananmen Square was one of the most moving events I've witnessed. It was a tragedy to see unarmed young people shot down in cold blood. It was a movement for freedom of expression, for basic rights, and against the outrage of official corruption. It ended badly, a stain on the reputation of a great country. The facts should not be denied, but discussed, so that people can move on. A lot of things were misreported on both sides. A lot of outside actors were involved that may have worsened the situation for the students and their protest. I want this photograph to be available to people for whom this is an important memory. It symbolises the courage of the time. What it doesn't show is the bloodshed. I am best known for the image of the tank man. That is called an 'iconic' image, but what such images sometimes obscure, with the passing of time, is all the other pictures that lend explanatory power to the story. I'm interested in history, and this landmark event changed my life.' -- Stuart Franklin

Jean Gaumy, North Atlantic Ocean, 1998

'I made this photograph in January of 1998 on a Spanish trawler in the North Atlantic. It's one of the last pictures I took on a traditional trawler. I started photographing on these boats in the early '70s because I really wanted to be in the middle of the sea and the elements. This kind of boat, with an open deck, undergoes all the chaos and violence of the water and sky. The experiences defied my expectations. And I suffered sometimes. I did not know that this trip would be the last trip. It represents the end of something, but also the beginning of something else, another cycle. I turned away from the sea, and toward the mountains. The sea and mountains are very similar in some ways in their relationship to the world, to the universe. The tiny, fragile spaces in them, which serve as shelters: the roof of a boat, the bridge of the trawler, the mountain refuge, the tent clinging to a ridge. It's a spiritual and physical experience, being in the middle of the vastness.' -- Jean Gaumy

Paul Fusco, US, 1968

'In 1968, I was assigned by Look magazine, where I was a staff photographer, to get on the train bearing Robert F. Kennedy's remains from New York to Washington, DC. Barred from photographing the Kennedy family in their private train car, I took note of the people lined up along the track to pay their last respects, and decided to photograph them. I was surprised that the other photographers on the train either failed to notice them, or chose not to take pictures. These photographs, first published in George magazine more than 30 years after RFK's death, are among the most important I've ever captured.' -- Paul Fusco

Constantine Manos, Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, US, 1952

'This photograph of children running through the woods is my first serious picture, a moment that marks the beginning of a lifelong search for beautiful and poetic images. It was made on Daufuskie Island, off the coast of South Carolina, in 1952. At the time, I was eighteen years old, but had been smitten by photography earlier when I joined the school camera club in 1947 -- incidentally, the same year Magnum Photos was founded. Until 1952 I knew nothing about the greater world of photography beyond my hometown of Columbia, where I was a student at the University of South Carolina. One day I read an article in a magazine about a photographer named Henri Cartier-Bresson, who, unbeknown to him, became my mentor from afar. I acquired the equipment he used -- a Leica camera and Ilford film. I had heard about Daufuskie Island and its African-American inhabitants who made their living harvesting the fruits of the sea. It sounded like the perfect subject matter for the kind of pictures I wanted to make. Later, in 1952 I went to New York for the first time and visited the offices of Magnum Photos with a box of Daufuskie prints, including this picture, under my arm.' -- Constantine Manos

Martin Parr, New Brighton, England, 1982

'In 1982 I bought the newly released Makina Plaubel 55mm fixed-lens camera. With this shift from 35mm to 6 x 7, I also changed from black and white to colour. Later that year, I started my project on New Brighton called The Last Resort. However, the first project I shot in colour was composed of urban scenes from Liverpool. This image was on the second roll of film. It's the first good photo I made in this new chapter of my work.' -- Martin Parr

Bruce Davidson, Harlem, New York, US, 1966

'This is a photograph from my project East 100th Street. In 1966, I began to document the neighbourhood in Spanish Harlem known as 'El Barrio.' At first, I met with the local citizens' committee, Metro North, to obtain their permission to produce a document that would serve as a calling card to be presented to local politicians, prospective business investors and the mayor. The community workers took me around to meet and observe people living in abysmal housing. I witnessed people working together to improve lives and create a place of peace, power, and pride. At that point in American history, we were sending rockets to the moon and waging a futile war in Vietnam. I felt the need to explore the space of our inner cities and document both the problems and the potential there. I photographed the people of East 100th Street and their environment in an open 'eye to eye' relationship, using a large bellows camera with its dark focusing cloth. I carried a heavy tripod and a powerful strobe light along with a portfolio of pictures taken in the community. As I stood before the subjects, the physical presence of the classic camera lent a certain respect to the act of photography, placing me in the picture itself.' -- Bruce Davidson

Steve McCurry, Havana, Cuba, 2010

'I took this photograph of a Soviet-era car on the colourful streets of Havana during my first trip ever to Cuba in 2010. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Havana is a time capsule of these wonderful vintage cars, and amazing architecture. There are few places I've yet to travel, and Cuba was one of those places until only five years ago. By the time I had started my career in photography in the '70s, the U.S. and Cuba had already cut all diplomatic ties in 1961. Since 2010, I've made multiple trips, and one of my more recent trips happened to coincide with President Obama's announcement to begin rebuilding the diplomatic ties with Cuba once more. I'm continuously drawn to the energetic scenes and people of Cuba, and I look forward to many more trips to the historic island.' -- Steve McCurry

Patrick Zachmann, Chateau Arnoux, Alpes de Haute Provence, France, 1984

'In 1984, I was 29 years old, and I was asked to make work with young kids in Marseille who had dropped out of school, and were suffering domestic or social difficulties. They were almost all teenagers of immigrant origins, and many of them were involved with drugs and gangs. I was supposed to give them small compact cameras, and introduce them to photography, not necessarily so that they may become photographers, but so that they could use photography as a medium to express themselves. I chose to make them focus on their identities, on their neighbourhoods, their families and friends. This fascinating experience lasted six months. While they took pictures, I decided to follow each of them in their daily lives and make a photographic work of my own. Thanks to this cultural assignment, I understood that I could penetrate very closed and sometimes dangerous communities if it was understood that I wasn't a reporter who would just pass through, take pictures and leave, but that I was a 'teacher.' It changed everything! I was not only 'taking' something, but giving something.' -- Patrick Zachmann

David Alan Harvey, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2011

'This photo, which was the cover of my book (based on a true story), changed the way I worked forever. After this successful book in 2012, I totally changed my methodology. From that point forward, I focused only on my self-published books. I dropped doing assignments, and simply worked on personal projects and artworks. I never plan a change. Things just happen. I think recognising when something revolutionary is going on in your creative life is the key. One needs to realise when a turning point is right before your eyes. It's just like photography itself. Fleeting. Carpe diem. Miss it, and you've missed it forever.' -- David Alan Harvey

Larry Towell, Lambton County, Ontario. 1997

'My wife Ann and I had been digging during the day, transplanting lilies from the front of this abandoned farmhouse back down the road to where we live. We finished. She was tired and laid in the grass. I took a picture. The house is now gone. The walnut trees have been bulldozed and burned. I saw this picture the other day for the first time in years and realised how photographing life within a hundred yards of my front porch had helped me focus on everything I cared about.' -- Larry Towell

Alex Webb, Port-au-Prince, 1979

'The sad, vibrant, tragic, beguiling country of Haiti has been key to my photography. After reading Graham Greene's The Comedians -- a novel set in Haiti that both fascinated and scared me -- I made my first trip in 1975. But, photographing in black and white, I soon realised that something was missing: I wasn't capturing a sense of the searing light and the heat -- physical and, perhaps, metaphysical -- of this country, so different than the grey-brown reticence of New England, where I grew up. I wasn't dealing with the emotional intensity of my experience of this vivid and troubled land. So, when I returned to Haiti four years later, I decided to work in colour. As I wandered through the porticoes of downtown Port au Prince in 1979, I remember spotting this man with a bouquet of bulrushes -- strikingly outlined against a vibrant red wall -- just as a second man, in shadow, rushed by. I took the photograph and slowly began to realise it was time to leave black and white behind.' -- Alex Webb

Peter Marlow, Kawayu, Japan, 1998

'Very early one morning in 2000, I was dragged out of my bed by my Japanese fixer, the amazingly patient Ito Kadowaki, who guided me through his confusing and ultimately fascinating country. We walked to a river, stripped off all our clothes and made our way into the hot springs that gushed up from the center of the flow. I was at the point in my career when I was learning that I did not need events to drive my pictures. Photography and authorship are so much about confidence, and I was beginning to understand that I could be less intrusive, let the situation develop and see pictures in the ordinary, in the in-between moments. This particular moment was so amazing: the mist, the heat and coldness in the same place. Taking that photograph of my feet was exactly what I kept from the experience. To be journalistic in that situation seemed wrong, and I simply tried to demonstrate my own experience by becoming part of the photograph. I did my best to keep my rangefinder camera out of the water and simply laid back calmly, relaxed and photographed my feet. Ultimately, I try to let pictures happen, because now, I have the confidence that they always will. What could be simpler?' -- Peter Marlow

Jim Goldberg, San Francisco, California, US, 1987

'This was in San Francisco, in 1987. A bunch of kids were camped out in the Riviera Hotel -- boy hustlers and their sugar daddy. One boy, Tank, showed us his gun. 'It's not loaded,' he said. He pointed the gun to his head, then out the window, and then to the ceiling. When the gun was pointed to the ceiling, he pulled the trigger and it went off. The gun was loaded after all.' -- Jim Goldberg

Jérôme Sessini, Tirana, Albania, 1999

'It was my first assignment abroad. I was a young freelancer for Gamma photo agency, and when I arrived at the Gamma offices, the bureau chief needed a photographer to travel to Albania immediately with some French Kosovar volunteers who planned to join fighters of the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army). So, he asked me bluntly, 'You want to be a reporter? Are you ready to go now?' I replied that I needed time to organise the travel and my life. He walked away and came back with 30 rolls of film and 800 dollars, 'Now you're ready. Good luck. Call me when you are in Albania.' An hour later I was on my way, lost and scared. This photograph is one of the first I made the day I arrived in Tirana. I think it's an image that reflects my state of mind at that moment: chaotic, filled with doubt and fear. As a young photographer, I was very influenced by black-and-white photographers -- especially Bruce Gilden and Mark Cohen -- so I think that part of me was trying to copy them by introducing the maximum number of elements into the frame. Looking back, I realise how much my approach has changed, as I look to make photos better by subtraction rather than addition.' -- Jérôme Sessini

Mikhael Subotzky, Delmas, South Africa, 2005

'I feel that everything is changing in my work, right now, as I produce more and more images. These changes involve looking forward to new ways of finding narrative through film and installations, but also looking backwards to renegotiate my own relationships to the images that I have taken in the past. This has involved re-ordering, re-editing, cutting, collaging and even smashing the glass mounts of photographs from the past ten years. This portrait of Joseph Dlamini has been reworked in this spirit: to think about the moment when I met him, to re-articulate the representational and narrative qualities of the image, and to reflect this moment of everything changing.' -- Mikhael Subotzky

Sohrab Hura, location unknown, date unknown

'When thinking about a single image that may have changed my life or my photography, I find it impossible to think in terms of specific photographs. What comes to mind are phases that I've gone through, the inflexion points beyond which something changed in the way I looked at the world. And no other time in my life as a photographer has been as rich as when I first started making photographs. I started to learn photography online with a group of people who absolutely loved the medium, and if it was not for their company, I would probably not have experienced all the other special things that I have in life since. Luko's infinite pool of knowledge and wisdom, Animesh's precious words, Arnaud and Francis' enthusiasm, Maciej's talent, Peter's rock-like encouragement, Sarolta, Simon, Eric, Claude ... and so many more. At a time when not being able to attend photo school was disheartening, their presence more than made up for it. We spent a lot of time dissecting, analysing, talking about and, frankly, fighting about work made by photographers from this strange and nutty group called Magnum that seemed more fictional than real. So, as I am writing this, I can't help but smile at this funny twist of fate.' -- Sohrab Hura

Ian Berry, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1961

'This was the first time I met Mandela. The occasion was the treason trial in Johannesburg. He was acting for the defendants in his capacity as a lawyer. I'd recently arrived in South Africa and was still rather ignorant of the political scene. During a break in proceedings I approached this chap (Mandela) who, at the time, was unknown to both myself and the world at large. During a five-minute chat, he filled me in on events, not only what was happening at the trial but to the political situation in general, in a most succinct and friendly way. I guess this was the moment that started my serious involvement in South African race relations and the two books that followed.' -- Ian Berry

Donovan Wylie, Belfast, Ireland, 1999

'The ball bounced. I was home again, in Belfast. That period was a turning point -- many balls in the air, the peace process starting and stopping. It was the start of a journey back home.' -- Donovan Wylie

Eli Reed, Benaco, Tanzania, 1995

'I was innocent for a brief night after arriving at the camp. I lost it in the early morning hours. I worked with the Spanish branch of Doctors Without Borders and by the end of the day, I was in awe of them. Conditions were not secure and tensions were high but they never faltered. I did my best not to miss anything. There were so many acts of kindness inside the nervousness that gripped the camp with slow-motion terror. Medical workers did their job impressively, staying on point. For myself -- it was a case of trying to capture the hell that the refugees had been through in a non-threatening way. I noticed a ragtag soccer game in a field and slowly moved toward it. I somehow found myself looking into two intense faces that had managed to drift into view between myself and the game. The facial expressions said everything that I had witnessed during the previous three days in all the other faces of the massacre survivors.' -- Eli Reed

Bruce Gilden, New York City, New York, US, 1981

'I had wanted to use flash for a long time, but it took me years to try it. I don't like to do things differently than the way I know how to do them. That's not because I don't like change -- I just trust what I know. But I always loved film noir, and I always loved shadows. So in 1980, I shot like 600 rolls of film in the streets of New York and developed them all in one fell swoop in my bathroom. I looked at what I had and found that there was nothing good. Nothing. It was all shit because I couldn't separate the foreground from the background. I said to myself, 'Bruce, you gotta start using flash.' So I tried it, and immediately, making pictures started to feel like a fun game. I was trying things, playing and experimenting. This was the first picture I ever took with a flash that I felt really good about. It marks the beginning of something simple, but something that changed my life as a photographer.' -- Bruce Gilden

Susan Meiselas, Nicaragua, 1978

'This image has always sparked a memory of reflection for me. It was the first time I felt a subject was using me to make the photograph they wanted so that their message could get out. It was taken in Masaya, Nicaragua just before the popular insurrection against the Somoza dictatorship took hold. The indigenous community used these traditional dance masks to protect their identity. They were practicing future attacks with homemade contact bombs. They simply wanted the world to know. The surprise for me was that it was used on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, my first ever in the media. I remain ambivalent about the performative in photography. I have never thought of myself as a portraitist, and still prefer to make connections through a process of immersion.' -- Susan Meiselas

Thomas Hoepker, Reno, Nevada, 1963

'People often ask me, 'What is your most important tool?' And I reply, 'comfortable shoes.' Indeed, most of my pictures were made while walking through a city or a landscape. I found this particular scene while strolling through the streets of Reno, Nevada one night in 1963. I was on assignment for the German magazine Kristall. The writer, Rolf Winter, and I flew to New York, rented a car, drove across the country and back again. We had no briefing from our editors except, 'Give us your opinion on America. Come back once you feel you have seen enough.' This project led me to eventually publish a book titled Heartland, a rather critical view of the United States in the nineteen sixties. The clown at the lunch counter never saw me.' -- Thomas Hoepker

Nikos Economopoulos, Kars, Turkey, 1986

'There was a period that I started searching for the familiar in what, until then, had seemed unfamiliar. Turkey -- the enemy ante portas of my childhood -- unveiled itself as an all too familiar neighbour, mapping out a path of memory. What I expected to be unknown, emerged from deep under my skin. I was drawn to it like one craves lost innocence, and the forgotten warmth of human gestures.' -- Nikos Economopoulos

Michael Christopher Brown, Beijing, China, 2010

'This phone photograph was taken outside a bookstore in Beijing in 2010. I was living in China, taking road trips in my Jinbei van. Both that experience and the novelty of the phone was exciting, though I did not know that the phone would enable me to change -- from someone who was used by photography to someone who was using photography. Without bags of equipment and the baggage and history of the photographic process, I was able to forget about photography and just focus on the experience. I then discovered what I needed to say.' -- Michael Christopher Brown

Micha Bar-Am, Jerusalem, Israel, date unknown

'Jerusalem -- a divided city, where demonstrations for and against various issues occur regularly. One day, during an Orthodox demonstration against autopsies, I happened to click a few frames while a young man pushed his hamsa (spread hand) into my camera, which is seen by some as 'the evil eye.' As it happened, it was the tail end of my roll of film and the image is actually a double exposure. This taught me that in spite of your careful framing, chance occurrences create the most interesting images.' -- Micha Bar-Am

Peter van Agtmael, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, 2008

'I took this picture in May, 2008. Having spent the previous few years on a series of embeds with the American armed forces, I had only seen the war through the narrow lens of a foreign military, almost devoid of any connection to the local population. I felt more like I was in America than in Afghanistan or Iraq. This trip was the first time I went un-embedded. I travelled around the north with Dost Mohammed Khairy, a disabled Afghan living in Phoenix who had gone back to Afghanistan to get married. This picture was taken on his wedding night, his bride Fahima posing with his nieces. Because of that trip, I began to realise the deep limitations of my perspective. Where Afghans had been shadowy and collective figures to me before, they had finally become individuals that I could start to see. I felt ashamed that my scope had been so narrow, and began to change the way I work.' -- Peter van Agtmael

Chien-Chi Chang, Taichung, Taiwan, 1997

'This coveted profession is prone to all sorts of unexpected hazards. Some natural: a lost footing followed by a slide down a dangerous cliff. Some political: the occasional jail detention. Some personal: an exhausted collapse in a lonely bathroom in New Zealand. The list goes on, and all these mishaps may be considered the usual, unlucky by-products of this profession. But the real damage, I learned was at home, where a marriage died.' -- Chien-Chi Chang

Jonas Bendiksen, Klo, Vesteraalen, Norway, 2012

'This picture of a burning hut was taken in 2012 while I was working at a small local newspaper in Vesterålen, northern Norway. I can't say this exact photographic moment was a game changer, but it was captured during a time in my life that definitely changed everything. I had found the woman I knew I wanted to spend my life with, and she was working as a doctor in a small community called Myre. I halfway moved to this small town in order to be close to her, and continue to woo her to move back south with me. I worked at the newspaper so that I had another reason or maybe an excuse to be there, photographing the community's big and small events. This was one of my favourite images I took during this time, a period when I felt my life coming together, when I had found love. (We are now married and expecting our first baby.)' -- Jonas Bendiksen

Hiroji Kubota, US, 1963

'I came to know Elliott Erwitt, Burt Glinn and René Burri in 1961, when I was a political science student in Tokyo. I was fascinated by their way of working, and it made me wonder if I could possibly become a photographer like them. After my graduation in 1962, I arrived in New York with nothing but $US500 and one Leica with a few lenses. I had no background in photography, and had no clue how to start my career. So, one day, when someone told me I should go to Washington D.C. to photograph, I just went. At 6:00 AM on a hot summer day, there were already people gathering at the National Monument. I started clicking away on my Leica, and the more folks came, the more I clicked. I heard the sounds of a speech: 'I have a dream ...' I knew, instantly, that I was witnessing history by accident. It wasn't until later that I learned it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The whole experience made me more aware of the political complexities of America and led me to spend my career documenting the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the presidential campaign of 1968 and so much more. In short, the March on Washington changed my perception of the world, and therefore, changed my life.' -- Hiroji Kubota

Bruno Barbey, Seville, Spain, 2006

'This is an early digital photograph for me. I started shooting digital some 10 years ago. I had been using Kodachrome for decades, but digital techniques offered me many new possibilities and incredible flexibility. It stimulated creation.' -- Bruno Barbey

John Vink, Tin-Akoff, Burkina Faso, 1985

'It's been there since I was bitten by the photography bug at 16. I think I have an ability to piece together a long-term story, spread over several years, covering various locations, interrupted by other stories. This picture of kids filling 'guerbas' at a pond in Burkina Faso was a catalyst. At the time I took it, I felt that it would be a decent picture. (You're never 100% sure, as so many things can still go wrong) All it needed was to be switched from horizontal on frame 17 to vertical on frame 18. But that moment in Tin Akoff, immediately after the image was inside the camera, also triggered an idea to do a story on the management of water in the Sahel region. Not about the famine or the drought itself, but what was being done to try and avoid it -- how did people cope with drought? Desertification was already on the agenda of some scientists but global warming had still quite a way to go before it reached the conscience of many. That precise moment in Burkina Faso, with the skinny kids who were totally adapted to their unforgiving environment, with the murky but precious water, initiated and defined what I would be working on nearly exclusively for the next 30 years.' -- John Vink

Erich Lessing, Sopot, Poland, 1956

'This is from the first election of a beauty queen in communist Poland. The contest for the title of 'Miss Sopot' drew such huge crowds that the event had to be moved to the casino of a seaside resort near Gdansk. Thousands of young people turned up unexpectedly. The casino was so overcrowded that the police had to close it off. The crowds spilled across the square all the way to the harbour, where the excursion boats landed. Then the beauty contest had to be moved from inside the casino to its roof. Suddenly, we were in a different world, where there was no communist regime. This felt like our world again, now that there were beautiful women, not just workers.' -- Erich Lessing

Guy Le Querrec, La Mancha, Spain, 1971

'In my early years as a professional photographer, I had an assignment for Réalité Hachette -- a month-long documentary project through Spain. The purpose was to photograph, in colour, particular places that they had requested. I was studiously following the brief, but on my left shoulder, I always had my 'free' Leica available, so that I'd be able to respond spontaneously in black and white. I spent a few days in La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote. I photographed the windmills, and took an impromptu walk through the small town of Campo de Criptana. My visual interests were not yet well-defined, nor very specific or identifiable. I didn't have my visual landmarks yet, but I instinctively felt drawn to this street scene -- the ambiguity embedded in it. It was only once the photo had been taken that it revealed what it contained -- the stage and the shapes of a trompe l'oeil. Several months later, on a Tuesday in September 1971, during a friendly work session with Henri Cartier-Bresson, Martine Franck and Pierre Gassmann, Henri shared his enthusiasm for this photograph. Right in the middle of all my uncertainty, he gave me some invaluable encouragement to go further along this path, exploring my own perception of the enigmas of space.' -- Guy Le Querrec

Moises Saman, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2002

'This is one of my early photographs from Afghanistan. In it, a displaced young man stands on the staircase of the old Kabul Cinema, a building destroyed during the Afghan Civil War of the 1990s. At the time I took this picture, I had no idea I was going to spend almost 10 years of my life working in this country. Afghanistan was my first 'real war,' a war that, in retrospect, came to define a generation of photojournalists that matured in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.' -- Moises Saman

Elliott Erwitt, Venice, Italy, 1949

'The picture made me a vegetarian. But only for a while.' -- Elliott Erwitt

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