Jonas Bendiksen – Magnum Talk

Jonas Bendiksen MAGNUM Photographer

Jonas Bendiksen is Norwegian and was born in 1977. He began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. Throughout the several years he spent there, Bendiksen photographed stories from the fringes of the former Soviet Union, a project that was published as the book Satellites (2006). In Russia and elsewhere, he often focuses on isolated communities and enclaves. In 2005, with a grant from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, he started working on The Places We Live, a project on the growth of urban slums across the world, which combines still photography, projections, and voice recordings to create three-dimensional installations. Bendiksen has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York, and second place in the Daily Life Stories for World Press Photo, as well as first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Awards. His editorial clients include National Geographic, Geo, Newsweek, The Independent on Sunday Review, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine, and The Rockefeller Foundation.

He was a Magnum Intern which provided him with a small bursary that he used to find help fund a project in Siberia which ended up lasting for 7 years. He pitched the project to magazines. The work was about unofficial satellite states that got created in Siberia following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Each state created its own currency and governments that did not have official recognition.

The next project was called places we live and was a story about urban slums which are the fastest growing habitat occupied by humans. Jonas describes his photography as storytelling and he feels that is grounded in his personal practice and crosses over into his commercial practice.

His most recent project is titled ‘Last Testament’ is a story about 7 men who have legitimate claims to being the new messiah (the second coming) and required him to visit different parts of the world to create the body of work.

Jonas approaches all work in the same way and commercial work informs other work. There are different modus operandi that require the use of different skills and build on each other.

Jonas described a number of his different commercial assignments that play to things that he enjoys in life.

Red Bull commission a lot of outdoor action orientated campaigns. Jonas describe these as tough guy imagery such as the Search and Rescue teams from his native Norway.

The next project was a campaign for Land Rover that was conceived as a photographic road trip that captured the vehicle in situations that play to the features of the vehicle. The campaign involved bringing multiple elements together including video of Jonas. Overall the project is aligned to the brand values of Land Rover.

The final project Jonas discussed was a campaign shoot for HSBC in Shanghai where the imagery would be used in HSBC communication with Chinese clients.

Reflection: Review the above narrative I can see how Jonas  is a good example of a photographer who combines art and commercial practices together where each informs each other. Combing the two would be for me an ideal strategy for my own photographic practice however I want to combine it with a third element which my current career in Financial Services.

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