Photography & Filming

Why Magnum’s Stuart Franklin Chose This Odd Photo

There aren’t many photos of trees in this year’s Magnum Photos Square Print sale. But just in case you happen to be into them, famed Magnum Photographer Stuart Franklin has you covered. The photo, shot with his smartphone, is a metaphor for the answer he gave when we asked about the curiosity for sale. Franklin is well known for a variety of iconic images, such as Tiananmen Square. But now, you can add this little oddity to your collection!

Indeed, this photo is much different from a lot of Stuart’s work. His photos typically show the world in a documentary style full of important details. That’s what made me curious about his image, as I thought it was a specific statement. So I asked:

So what made you want to photograph this tree? At least in my mind, I think of mother nature crying out for help. But that’s just me, what do you feel? More specifically, what made you choose this photo for the print sale? Why does it stand out to you so much?

Chris Gampat

I think we can all say that it’s an intriguing choice. And as Mr. Franklin stated, there is no rhyme or reason behind it. He said:

Well, it was fresh in my mind, from a few weeks ago in Italy. I happen to like it. What else can I say? Should I withdraw it? Does it offend you/anyone? Maybe someone will like it. I think it’s suitably ambiguous. You made a story from it. Other stories will differ. That for me is the joy of photography. Its broad appeal.

Stuart Franklin

Some mornings we wake up and choose chaos, and that’s what I felt after reading his answer. If you happen to buy this image, think of all the curious places you could put it. Here are some fun recommendations:

  • Near window light where you somehow or another think the tree might grow
  • On your fridge, so your nephew can put googly eyes on it
  • In your kitchen above the counter, where the tree will forever look down on you and scowl
  • Along your staircase, where you might have other random collections such as vintage maps
  • In your closet, where it will spook you every time you open the door
  • In your restaurant as your pothos plant slowly takes over the walls

Of course, we’re messing around, and any artist has the right to not speak about their work just as anyone has a right to question the artist’s intentions. Stuart has a history of not explaining his images, but he surely hopes people feel and imagine things.

There are lots of other photos available this year for the Magnum Square Print Sale. I’ve seen a few very iconic images from previous Magnum Print Sales adorning peoples’ walls. Will this one by Stuart Franklin end up near your window light?

The Magnum Square Print Sale

The Magnum Square Print Sale takes place on their website and ends on October 23rd, 2022. You can buy this image from Stuart Franklin and more. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get your hands on some wonderful Magnum Photos prints from photographers you love. In previous years, we’ve had an affiliate relationship tie in, but this year we’re just profiling a few photographers we admire. 

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