Two training programmes for developing skills and practical knowhow in management and preservation of photographic archives and collections were held in Paris from March to July 2021 and 2022, as part of the international project The Cycle – European training in photographic legacy management (PLM).
The programme was designed in cooperation with experts from the The Office For Photography and the The Institute of Art History, who conducted a similar pilot training programme in October 2021 in Zagreb. The goal is to empower young generations of photographers and cultural professionals to pursue an independent career in management and preservation of photographic archives and collections.
The programme provides trainees with an opportunity to build capacities in managing, preserving and transmitting photographic heritage by implementing new acquired skills, methodologies and tools in a practical workplace environment and translate the learnings into action.
The 2021 and 2022 programme was attended by 7 young photography experts and university graduates:
- Andrés Bravo (Mexico)
- Marie Fernández Mota (Mexico)
- Linda Harrison (Canada)
- Joao de Moura (France)
- Liza Moura (Brazil)
- Corentin Schimel (France)
- Ricardo Tokugawa (Brazil)
Participants were admitted to the programme following their applications to a call in December 2020. At the end of the programme, they received certificates of participation and recommendations with highlighted competencies and skills acquired throughout the training.
The first part of the training in PLM was THE WORKSHOP, a theoretical, specialized, and interdisciplinary introductory course of 4 weeks, combined with practical exercises, that allowed students to evaluate a photographic collection.
The content of the classes was tailored to the photographic collection chosen to be the subject of the theoretical and hands-on training, in this case the Magnum Photos Color Archive in Paris.
A total of 8 courses were designed to provide students with the necessary knowledge on archival work and photographic technique needed to conduct a proper assessment of the archive, and with core skills to draft a collection management plan.
The practical assignments included conducting background research and surveys, determining the different components of the archive and its nature, identifying their technical qualities and establishing a diagnosis of its state of conservation, assigning the archive a place in the classification framework, and assessing the processing needs of the collection to produce a management plan.
Structure of the 8 courses
|Course I||Introduction to Magnum Photos. 75 years of history|
|Course II||The operating mode of a photo agency. From the archive to the public|
|Course III||History of photographic technique. Color slides|
|Course IV||The Organic nature of the collection|
|Course V||Principles of archival processing|
|Course VI||‘Diagnosis de conservation’ (condition evaluation) of color slides|
|Course VII||Collection management – conducting an assessment|
|Course VIII||Collection management – establishing processing priorities|
The training residency in Paris was created to complement an introductory workshop led by Spéos international photography school. It was designed to provide individual mentoring and give hands-on experience with tangible archival materials, providing practical knowledge to supplement the theory.
The students were given individual assignments through which to develop their skills and competencies, working directly with Magnum’s color slide archive, which had lain largely hidden for decades. From analyzing the collection to working step-by-step on defined digitization and image management assignments, they were further tasked with defining a strategy to promote the worth and value of the archive to a wider public.
In short, they were given a unique opportunity to engage with the real-life decisions and processes of Photographic Legacy Management.
For 12 weeks, trainees acquired hands-on experience that allowed them to apply the knowledge acquired during the Workshop. Magnum Photos’ color slide archive was chosen as the subject of this practical training and assignments that each student was able to develop individually. Trainees first analyzed the archival holdings, and then worked step by step on the defined management and conservation tasks. Finally, each student prepared and conducted a valorization action to facilitate access to the collection.
Assessing the Archives. Their first goal was to conduct a thorough assessment of the Magnum’s color archive by determining the object of their study, ascertaining, and describing its existing classification system and identifying unprocessed materials. This initial exploration not only allowed students to anticipate the means needed to ensure the preservation, processing and valorization needs of the archive, but it also resulted in a preliminary research tool that gave direct access to the archive holdings and provided a framework for the digitization work ahead.
As part of the professionalization, trainees were introduced to a wider network of experts to meet the profession during their studies. They also participated to a series of tutoring sessions with professionals in the field during which the students could receive critical feedback and discuss about their projects and assignments. The professionals involved were:
- Eng Sengsavang. Reference Archivist, UNESCO
- Fred Jourda, lead printer at Picto photographic laboratory
- Marion Schneider, Exhibitions coordinator, Magnum Photos
- Andréa Holzherr. Global Cultural Director, Magnum Photos
- Paul Hayward. Production & Digital Special Projects Development Director, Magnum Photos
- Mica Gherghescu. Responsible for scientific programming and reception of researchers. Centre Pompidou, Bibliotheque Kandinsky
- Aude Raimbault. Responsible for the conservation and management of the collections. Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson
- Sylvie Zaidman, director of Musée de la Libération in Paris
- Philippe Bachelier. Photographer, printer of Sebastião Salgado, and journalist in charge of the Black & White section of French magazine Réponses Photo
- Pool of photographers, Magnum Photos