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 Square Print Sale: Written by Light, taking place from 16 to 22 October 2023. 31 World Press Photo Contest winners from around the world join more than 75 Magnum photographers and estates to highlight the importance of photography and visual journalism 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 focusing on ethical standards for visual journalism in the age of AI, which are shared here. “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 American photographer Ami Vitale, an image from her story Pandas Gone Wild showing cubs sleeping in the panda nursery at the Bifengxia panda base, Sichuan, China, awarded in the 2017 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 is 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 $110/£110/€120.

The profits from the World Press Photo Contest winners prints on sale are shared equally between the photographer and the World Press Photo Foundation. As an independent, nonprofit organization we will use this funding to support our activities, which include the annual contest, exhibitions, education programs, and promoting press freedom.

In light of recent events in Israel and Gaza, we have decided to donate a portion of the profits from the sale to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in order to support humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and other situations of violence around the world.
Images credits (top to bottom, left to right): Sergio Tapiro, 2016 World Press Photo Contest winner; M'hammed Kilito, VII Mentor Program/Visura. 2023 World Press Photo Contest winner; Ami Vitale. 2017 World Press Photo; Alessandra Sanguinetti, Magnum Photos; Contest winner. Sergio Larrain, Magnum Photos.