Magnum Contact Sheets is a new book of pre-digital photos and contact sheets presenting a remarkable selection of contact sheets and related material, Magnum Contact Sheets lays bare the creative methods, strategies and editing processes behind some of the world’s most iconic images.
Contact sheets were once integral to the process of choosing images for print, and have often been compared to an artist’s sketchbook. With digital photography now the norm for photojournalism, the contact sheet as work tool is obsolete, though its value as a 20th century artefact remains. In the book’s introduction, author Kristen Lubben writes: “The contact sheet, a direct print of a roll or sequence of negatives, is the photographer’s first look at what he or she captured on film… It records each step along the route to arriving at an image – providing a behind-the-scenes sense of walking alongside the photographer and seeing through their eyes.” Later she adds: “The contact sheet… embodies much of the appeal of photography itself: the sense of time unfolding, a durable trace of movement through space, an apparent authentication of photography’s claim to transparent representation of reality.”
Starting with Cartier-Bresson, Chim and Robert Capa’s photographs of Spain in the 1930s, the book spans over 70 years of world events, with more than 139 contact sheets alongside the final images from 69 Magnum photographers. Famous shots including Philippe Halsman’s surreal Dali Atomicus (1948), Eve Arnold’s close-ups of Joan Crawford applying her makeup (1959), Rene Burri’s iconic portraits of Che Guevara (1963) and Thomas Hoepker’s much discussed image of four people casually watching the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster from afar. The photos are discussed by the photographers themselves, providing insight into their editing and selection process, as well as into the stories behind the images.
139 contact sheets, containing over 3,600 frames, representing 69 photographers, are featured, as well as zoom-in details, selected photographs, press cards, notebooks and spreads from contemporary publications, including Life magazine and Picture Post. Insight into each contact sheet is provided in texts written by the photographers themselves or by experts chosen by members’ estates.
• 139 contact sheets by 69 photographers from Magnum Photos, plus selected details and ancillary visual material
• 435 illustrations, including over 200 prints, 60 contextual images and 40 contact-sheet enlargements, encompassing black-and-white, colour, standard 35mm, large-format and panoramic photography.
• Texts include commentaries by Magnum photographers and specially commissioned authors.
• 508 pages: Page size: 342 X 280 mm (13 1/2 X 11 inches). Printing specification: five colours throughout plus spot varnish on all photographs. Paper stock: 150gsm matt art.
An accompanying exhibition is being held at the Magnum Print Room in London, from November 9 to January 27.
34.20 x 28.00 cm
435 Illustrations, 230 in colour
with over 3,600 frames on 139 contact sheets
First published 2011