Main About This Project About the Photographers Community


We asked five photographers to consider these questions: What is there in your society that works well? What is there in the place that you live that supports the human rights of people for a productive, healthy and dignified life?

So much of the news is about what does not work, so much of documentary photography is about the rights denied to people, but are there things being done the right way in your society that other societies might be able to learn from?

For example, is there a strong respect for people from other religions or other political points of view? Is there a way of helping poor people, or caring for children, or respecting the environment, that has a positive impact? Is there access to healthcare and to education? Do family structures support the old and the young? Is there a strong support for gender equality? Are workers treated fairly?

While no model is perfect, we wanted to begin to explore some of the innovative ways in which people are being served in five countries: Armenia, Bangladesh, China, Kenya and Slovenia.
And how did we pick these five countries? This is where recent graduates of the New York University/Magnum Foundation Photography & Human Rights Program live: Nazik Armenakian (Armenia), Taslima Akhter (Bangladesh), Sim Chi Yin (China), Boniface Mwangi (Kenya) and Manca Juvan (Slovenia).

This is the beginning of a series on What Works in a world in which we are so often shown what does not work.

About Magnum Foundation:

In 2009, Magnum photographers created the Magnum Foundation to build on the agency’s long-standing tradition of photography in the public interest. The Foundation strives to use documentary imagery to advance human rights, social justice, and to promote deeper understandings of critical issues.

The mission of the Magnum Foundation is to sustain the values and practice of in-depth, independent documentary photography as an art form that serves society by fostering empathy, engagement, and positive social change. The Foundation believes that such change comes about through compelling, independent documentation; active collaboration with other grassroots and media organizations on distribution strategies; and through the innovative presentation and exhibition of high-quality work. The Magnum Foundation also supports authorship and seeks to position itself as a leader in search of new strategies for increased exposure and impact of documentary photographers in an ever-changing media landscape.

Website: The Magnum Foundation

About NYU-MF Photography and Human Rights:

In 2010, Susan Meiselas and Fred Ritchin created the Photography and Human Rights summer program at NYU. The 6-week program is designed to explore strategies to create effective documentary projects in pursuit of human rights. The Magnum Foundation now supports five photographers working in non-western countries to travel to New York and attend the program. 

The Human Rights fellowship is aimed at intermediate and advanced international students. The six-week program is comprised of three courses and is designed to enable students to explore strategies for creating effective documentary projects in pursuit of human rights. Students will propose multimedia or traditional presentation strategies for their photo essays, which they will develop through two studio courses. A lecture course will provide participants with an opportunity to look at photography's strengths and weaknesses, both real and imagined, in attempting to determine new strategies for its use as both society and technology evolve. Scholarship fellows will remain in New York for an additional week to meet with local editors, publishers, and other experts in the field and explore museums, galleries, and other cultural resources.

Website: Photography and Human Rights summer program at NYU


Fred Ritchin (NYU)
Susan Meiselas (MF)
Emma Raynes (MF)
Elizabeth Kilroy (ElizabethK Studio - website designer)
Jacqueline Bao (MF)

Special Thanks:

This work was made through the generous support of the Nancy Stephens and Steve Rosenthal Family Foundation and Open Society Foundations