Decisive moments – reflective journey @exhibition


PHOTOGRAPHY MUSEUM FOAM, till 9 DECEMBER 2015, AMSTERDAM

What does it take to have a glorious moment of success? The breakthrough or acknowledgement you are longing for? The exhibition “Magnum Contact Sheets” at Foam is the place to be right now for a reflective journey. It shows the magic surrounding, the all-encompassing ‘decisive moment’ and how iconic images we all know, see the light. This exhibition shows the working methods and the learning process of the world’s most famed journalistic photographers, by looking at their original contact sheets. To read their stories brings you true insight into some of the mistakes, coincidences, the luck, hard work needed and the help these legendary artists encountered.


A remarkable exhibition with Contact Sheets: before and after decisive moments

The exhibition consists of 60 contact sheets and associated single images, offering a chronological overview of outstanding historical moments from the 1930s to 2010. Subjects range from reportages of WOII, Prague Spring, icons such as Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Dalí and Martin Luther King to the Balkan Wars and conflict in the Middle East.

In Contact Sheets, the legendary agency Magnum Photos (established in 1947) shows for the first time the circumstances in which images by these photographers were created. Not only the moments before and after taking that one iconic photo are on show, but also the photographer’s notes, marking that decisive moment on the sheet, often long after the photo was shot.




Such as the story behind this legendary picture in black and white which moved the world. Staurt Franklin had no idea what was going to happen. He admits to being very frustrated about his own work: ‘I was too far away’.

Other photographers describe how they had been covering events for years and years, without any recognition. Sometimes they didn’t have money to pay for contact sheets. Sometimes someone convinced them to share the picture with the world. And then this one picture changed their career competely.


Our own Contact Sheet?

This exhibition made me think about personal leadership and development. What would be part of our own contact sheet in our career or development, personally or in teams? What would different moments look like where we try, fail or fall, try again, hold on, give up and try again? How do we ourselves embrace luck, hard work, coincidence, mistakes and help to gain what we want – personally and together? What do leaders do to hold that space for others?

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