Either one of these rates would be a boon today: $3,000 to write the text for a 16-page magazine photo report titled “Women and Children in Soviet Russia,” and $20,000 to the photographer for the image usage rights. Except in this case, these exact rates were paid out in 1948, when the former amount would cover the purchase of two new cars.
That factoid, involving writer John Steinbeck, photographer Robert Capa and the February 1948 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, is brought up in the current issue of Red Bull magazine The Red Bulletin’s cover story, “Magnum Force: 70 Years of Sports Photography.” The Red Bulletin has partnered with photographic agency Magnum and to kick things off, it is showcasing 16 shots of sports figures spanning the agency’s 70 years. There’s a mix of famous folks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muhammad Ali together with lesser-known practitioners of sports like cliff-diving and rugby.
From the accompanying sidebar:
When the Magnum photography agency was set up over lunch one day during the spring of 1947 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, sports wasn’t really in the forefront of its founding fathers’ thoughts. Robert Capa, William Vandiver, David “Chim” Seymour, Georges Rodger and Henri Cartier-Bresson had all been war corespondents. Now they were driven by an urge to satisfy people’s curiosity for things other than the horrors of conflict.
Getting back to the Ladies’ Home Journal article, according to the John Steinbeck Encyclopedia, when Capa and Steinbeck’s separately syndicated their account of the 1947 trip to Russia to newspapers, it was the author’s turn to get the lion’s share of the money. The trip was also turned into a book titled The Russian Journal, which coincidentally was revisited last month here.
Along with the cover story about Magnum, which appears in all four May editions of The Red Bulletin (U.S., Germany, Austria, Switzerland), prints of the selected photos are also on display at the company’s Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria. The exhibit opened April 5 and runs through May 1.
Happy 70th Anniversary, Magnum!