Magnum and World Press Photo Square Print Sale: 16-22 October

Written by Light: Photographers from around the world explore what photography means to them in the age of artificial intelligence

The World Press Photo Foundation partners with Magnum Photos for the upcoming Square Print Sale: Written by Light, which will take place from 16-22 October 2023. 30 World Press Photo Contest winners from around the world will join more than 75 Magnum photographers and estates to celebrate the medium of photography through a collaborative curation of over 100 images.

Inspired by the growing number of conversations around the use of artificially-generated images online and the lack of regulation surrounding text-to-image generators, the curation for this sale — made up of one image by each participating photographer or estate — seeks to celebrate the fundamental difference between the practice of these photographers and AI-generated images: the use of light.

The partnership was initiated when World Press Photo and Magnum Photos members met in the context of a working group around new labeling standards for visual journalism. “We have partnered with Magnum Photos to honor and double down on our support for photojournalism that captures fair and accurate representations of what the photographer witnessed,” explains Joumana El Zein Khoury, executive director of World Press Photo. “I hope these images will help prompt wider discussions around the differences between AI-generated images and photography.”

Some of the images of the collection explore the experience of being present and shooting an image — often in incredulous or unexpected circumstances. Others pay tribute to light through moments of transient glory.

Awarded in the 2023 World Press Photo Contest, M’hammed Kilito contributes an image of the last group of palm trees still standing in what used to be the Tanseest Oasis in southern Morocco, from the long-term project Before It’s Gone. And from Palestinian photographer Fatima Shbair, we see an image of Palestinian children gathering around soft candlelight in Beit Lahia, Gaza during a fragile ceasefire following an 11-day conflict, winner in the 2022 Contest.

Magnum photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti selects an image titled The Models, of Argentinian protagonists Guille and Belinda as they pose in front of a white wall with a bouquet of fresh flowers, illuminated by the rays of light coming from the window behind them. And from Sergio Larrain’s archive, a flock of birds is transformed into a pattern of eerie shadows against the gray skies as they burst into flight in Trafalgar Square in 1959.

Through this curation, we want to pay tribute and celebrate what really makes our photographs different from an artificially-generated image,” says Magnum president, Cristina de Middel. “As photographers, we were all, at some point, seduced by light and the possibilities of capturing it in our own unique way. The time feels right to go back to our roots in the practice and reflect on the very origins of our photographic practice, to the camera obscura, and how an image is recorded by the impact of light on a surface.

Each of the more than 100 images will be available to purchase as a limited-edition, signed or estate-stamped, museum-quality, 6x6 inches print throughout the duration of the online sale only, from 16-22 October, priced at €120/£110/$110+tax.

In addition, a selection of images will be exhibited exclusively at Unseen Amsterdam Photography Fair from 21-24 September, providing attendees with a rare opportunity to view and pre-order limited-edition prints ahead of the online sale.

Stay tuned - Sign up for the Magnum Photos newsletter to get the latest about the sale and stand a chance to win a free limited edition, signed print.  

Images credits (top to bottom, left to right): Anuar Patjane Floriuk, 2016 World Press Photo Contest winner; M'hammed Kilito, VII Mentor Program/Visura. 2023 World Press Photo Contest winner; Alessandra Sanguinetti, Magnum Photos; Sergio Larrain, Magnum Photos; Fatima Shbair, Getty Images. 2022 World Press Photo Contest winner.