The impact of arms on civilians

A photo essay by Magnum Foundation Fellows


Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Human Rights Fellowship

From the front lines of Ukraine to the streets of Kenya, Magnum Foundation’s Human Rights Fellows lend us insider perspectives on issues that have true global relevance. As you’re drawn into these pages, you will see the devastating effects of weapons and warfare on civilian populations through the eyes of documentary photographers for whom “out in the field” means being home. The diversity of experience in our network of Fellows is extraordinary, and together their images show us that pain and resilience are shared amongst humanity.

2011 Human Rights Fellow Boniface Mwangi was born and raised in Kenya. Today, he uses his photography to combat violence and political corruption in Kenya, while advocating for a citizens’ movement to rebuild the country. He has established safe, creative spaces for locals to discuss and organise peacefully, catalysing real community-driven action. His commitment to his country gives his images a certain weight and guile that is often out of reach for a non-native photographer.

2014 Human Rights Fellow Loubna Mrie picked up a camera when Syria’s revolution first began. She was compelled to shed light on the atrocities that the Assad regime was inflicting on the Syrian people. She embedded with the rebels, obtaining unparalleled access. Boniface and Loubna, along with Eman Helal of Egypt, Pattabi Raman of India, Anastasia Vlasova of Ukraine, and the rest of our Human Rights Fellows are all driven by a commitment to bear witness inside their countries, to reveal powerful evidence and share insights that often go unseen.

Our Fellows are dedicated to finding impactful visual strategies to create frameworks that expose and engage. In their work they do not simply illustrate, they interrogate. They show us that when independent, intelligent, and critical eyes are on the world, photographs can endure as testimony to inform the public and shape policies.

There is a resounding need for platforms to allow young regional photographers to harness their abilities as storytellers and as activists, and to contribute meaningfully to their home countries and beyond. Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Human Rights program provides a transformative opportunity for photographers to tell stories within their communities. With professional training and intensive mentorships, we have empowered 28 Fellows from 19 countries. They have continued to share their learning with their communities and a broader network of colleagues and activists. Since the inception of the program 6 years ago, we have been fostering a global network of support as well as instilling values of ethical practice. These 28 Fellows continue to bring the human rights violations in their backyards to public attention through in-depth documentary photography.

-Magnum Foundation