Photographer discusses collection at Center

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Photographer Eli Reed normally lets his photos do the talking, but he made an exception during a presentation Wednesday about the Harry Ransom Center’s Magnum Archive Collection. Reed, a UT photojournalism professor and Magnum photographer, has many of his own photos on display along with hundreds of others at the center. Magnum Photos is a renowned and innovative photographic cooperative that has covered major events of the 20th century, according to the Ransom Center website. The Ransom Center acquired and announced the Magnum Archive Collection a year ago. Reed was the first Magnum photographer to be admitted while working at a newspaper. He gave his audience at Wednesday’s talk the history behind many of his photos in the collection, with diverse subjects ranging from the Lost Boys of Sudan to a recent vacation in New Zealand. “Every picture has a story, but I can’t tell you every one because we’ll be here all night,” Reed said. He first attracted Magnum in 1982 through his work for the San Francisco Examiner on death squads in Central America. “I always wanted to see more of the world than what I was allowed to see,” Reed said. “The way I did that was through my camera.” Reed said he was scared when he first went into Central America for two months. He said it was a very dangerous job and that he was often mistaken for being Cuban since he is black. He said in El Salvador, they don’t like journalists because some of them do not tell the truth. “The event that will have a lasting impression is always going to be the next event,” Reed said. “You have no idea what it’s going to be.” Reed said he could shoot for an hour in the corner of the room and still find interesting shots to look at. David Coleman, curator of photography at the Ransom Center, said the Magnum collection has been very popular, especially during its first six months. “There’s a general curiosity from the public,” Coleman said. “They’re very interested in seeing the range of work from those photographers.” Coleman said having the collection on campus is a great opportunity for students and faculty. “Students and faculty can see the premier photo agency in the world with its famous photographer members’ works,” Coleman said. “It’s an elite organization, and they have covered a huge range of topics and subjects from the 1930s to the mid 2000s.” Karen Kiessling, who attended the presentation, said she admired Reed’s enthusiasm for his photography. She said she is not a photographer but understands the art and beauty behind each of Reed’s photos. “It’s one thing to work on the movies and take pictures of beautiful people, but it’s another thing to walk and look at the rest of us, who are ordinary, and find beauty in those pictures,” Kiessling said. “I loved the [pictures] that told stories even if they were dreadful stories or sad stories. It’s all about emotion, and you really get those feelings.”