Today you are getting two posts in one because I'm going to compare Getty Images with Magnum Photos. That's one thing and the other is my long-delayed blog about Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Two VERY different types of image agencies were originated by two very different kinds of people during two very different time periods. Note that I didn't say "photo" agencies. The only common characteristic among the two is the word "image."
Here's Getty: "In 1995, Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein founded Getty Images to bring the fragmented stock photography business into the digital age. And that's exactly what they did. We were the first company to license imagery online - and have continued to drive the industry forward with breakthrough licensing models, digital media management tools and a comprehensive offering of creative and editorial imagery, microstock, footage and music."
Here's Magnum: "Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually." – Henri Cartier-Bresson
See where I'm coming from?
Getty is out to make a buck, pure and simple. They "took images into the digital age," in the words of promotion on their site. Magnum's "community of thought" is a very different kind of proposition altogether.
I certainly don't have any beef with businesses making a buck. That's what most of us in the civilized world do in some way or another.
The word "Magnum" is a very apt name for the group of highly qualified and highly selected shooters on Magnum's roster (as of today) of 85 photographers. They call this group a "diverse photographic cooperative."
The word "agency" is much more accurate a word to describe Magnum's enterprise. Getty provides a department store approach to shopping for images. In fact "The Agency Collection" is one of their departments. Magnum represents people who are talented photojournalists.
Among it's founders was Henri-Cartier Bresson, a magnificent photographer who pioneered a genre. He was a technological pioneer too. He was among the first serious photographers to utilize the 35mm film format in what then was maybe the only camera for that film.
According to Leica Camera AG, "Oskar Barnack's genius idea of creating the small format 35 mm camera created a revolution in photography in 1925, paving the way for the birth of the Leica Legend."
A Renaissance Man, HCB was a triple threat-- painting, still photography and filmmaker. Adoption of the Leica gave him the freedom to capture "The Decisive Moment." In 1947, with Robert Capa, George Rodger, David 'Chim' Seymour and William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos.
Please explore the Magnum web site if you'd like to learn about the true meaning and intent of "photojournalism."