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Magnum Photos Workshop Showcase: Martha Slivak

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Last year, Magnum Photos and British Journal of Photography announced a special partnership around education that sees the world’s longest-running photography magazine work with the participants of Magnum Photos’ international workshop programme to showcase selected portfolios online.


Initiated in 2007 as part of Magnum’s 60th anniversary celebrations, Magnum’s workshops provide opportunities for photographers at different stages in their careers to benefit from the vast experience of Magnum’s established photographers.

Recently, Magnum photographer Moises Saman hosted a workshop in São Paulo, Brazil. At the end of the event, he selected Martha Slivak’s portfolio to be featured in British Journal of Photography. “I chose Martha’s work because of her effort to work outside of her immediate comfort zone,” he tells BJP. “Martha is new to photography, and her interest in the medium is not technical or journalistic; instead it comes from a place within herself where raw feelings and emotions dictate her direction. I was really impressed by her capacity to approach a sensitive topic in a short amount of time, and by the softness with which she approached her subject.”

We speak to Martha Slivak about her work.

BJP: What is your story about? Why did you choose this particular subject and how did you go about shooting it?

Martha Slivak: My story is about a woman who used to be a famous model and a painter but today she feels depression and loneliness because she has ageing issues. I started the workshop with no idea in mind about what to shoot so I was told to go to a park and see what I would do. While I was heading to the park I got stuck in a very bad traffic, which gave me time to think about Moises’ words. I almost gave up at that moment – I didn’t want to shoot the park. Because it was getting dark I decided to go home but ended up at my aunt’s house. She wasn’t feeling well, was depressed, and I told her my dissatisfaction of shooting in the park. She understood my feelings. At this moment I knew I had to shoot her. That was the most difficult work I’ve ever done, not only because she is a person that I am really close to but also because it was the first time I did something like that. I had a few hours during the three days to shoot. I had to respect her limits and on the fourth day, she was emotionally exhausted; it wasn’t possible to continue shooting.

BJP: Why did you decide to sign up to the Magnum workshop?

Martha Slivak: During a trip in December I decided to study photography to become a professional. When I came back in January and saw that a Magnum workshop would be held in my city, I thought that it was a lifetime opportunity. I couldn’t miss the chance to learn from a master.

BJP: How was the experience of learning with Moises Saman? What’s the best advice you received from the workshop?

Martha Slivak: Moises is such a sensitive person and so committed that learning with him is great. It was a life-changing experience for me. I learned a lot, but the most important thing I learned was to get out of my comfort zone.

BJP: What are you planning next?

Martha Slivak: My plans are to start working as a photographer and to continue studying photography. After this experience I want to do more – I am trying to figure out how.


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