Advancing Progressive Causes through Visual Imagery

Co-sponsors: Woodcock Foundation, The Magnum Foundation, Ashoka

In a media saturated world, not-for-profit organizations and socially responsible enterprises must find new ways to promote and make visible the results of their efforts in a distinct and compelling manner. Often, they also need to document instances of injustice – from human rights abuses to environmental degradation to the ravages of poverty and disease – in an accurate, nuanced, and effective way. The photographers of Magnum Photos created The Magnum Foundation to build on Magnum’s longstanding and pioneering tradition of photography in the public interest. The Foundation strives, across various program areas, to use visual imagery in the documentary style to advance social justice and socially progressive causes and to promote a deeper understanding of current issues. Woodcock partnered with grantee Magnum Foundation in a pilot effort called BE SEEN, a program designed to help innovative not-for-profit organizations build their media capacity. The goal is to help these individuals and entities develop visual campaigns that create tipping points of perception, thereby connecting them to a larger public. Upon launching the pilot partnership, Magnum photographers traveled to Africa, Asia, and Latin America to visualize the work of a number of Ashoka Fellows. With the support of a matching grant from Ashoka, The Magnum Foundation has produced three multimedia portraits and hired an Executive Producer to oversee the pre-production, in-field and post-production processes. The Magnum Foundation also gathered a talented team of designers and video editors to develop a multi-perspective web interface as an innovative prototype, slated for launch later in 2010.