On the Slow Response from Magnum on David Alan Harvey

Magnum is stepping up its investigation of the allegations made against long-standing member David Alan Harvey.

In the final weeks of 2020, The Columbia Journalism Review published an article regarding Magnum’s David Alan Harvey. 11 women stepped forward to share their experience with Harvey. All the women stated he had acted sexually inappropriately with them. The allegations ranged from inappropriate comments to masturbating in front of them without consent. Magnum, already aware of the allegation, had suspended Harvey back in October 2020. But while the investigations continue, we ask: is Magnum doing enough and should you still support Harvey’s work?

Magnum Investigates David Alan Harvey

The answer to the question of if Magnum’s doing enough isn’t a simple yes or no. The article published in The Columbia Journalism Review states that Magnum was made aware of David Alan Harvey’s alleged behavior as early as 2009. If true, it’s clear that Magnum either didn’t take the allegations seriously or wanted to sweep them under the rug to protect one of their most recognized members.

Some may argue it was a different time back then, but it was still 2009. We were not living in the archaic ages, and we understood the difference between right and wrong. Just because it was before the rise of MeToo, doesn’t make it excusable. But although many are rightfully angry at Magnum’s poor response to a very serious situation, we must accept that we cannot change what has already happened.

It’s clear in the present time, with Magnum’s first member selected female President, Olivia Arthur, at the helm, that the collective is starting to deal with the whole ordeal in the best possible way. On January 5th, a statement from Magnum outlined how they intend to start a new independent investigation. It includes speaking to all 11 women that claimed David Alan Harvey mistreated them.

Some critics on social media feel this kind of action should have happened years ago, or at the very least when they suspended Harvey back in October last year. And they’re right. But what does this add to an already difficult conversation? Again, we cannot change the past but we can adapt how we handle things in the present, and it’s clear that’s what Magnum wants to do.

And remember, this is about justice. Whatever the outcome, this situation and the parties involved deserve justice, and a proper investigation will hopefully help us reach that point.

Should You Support Harvey’s Work?

As is common in situations like this, many people, out of protest, refuse to support Harvey’s work. For some, the allegations are enough for them to believe that Harvey is guilty of sexual misconduct, and supporting his work is something they can no longer do. I fully support that. However, unlike others, I’m not sure I would go as far as to say you should stop supporting him too.

In the past, when I’ve written on similar topics, including the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Joe Aguirre, I advise women not to work with this kind of photographer. Not because I’m certain they’re guilty, but because safety has to become before anything else. And when a photographer has a bad reputation, putting your health and body at risk just isn’t worth it. At the site here, we’ve also written about Jason Lanier, Jeff Rojas, and others.

At the time of writing this, Harvey is still offering workshops and mentorship on his site. If you’re a young, aspiring female photographer, I would advise you think twice before deciding if this is an option for you.

But, if you still want to follow Harvey on social media or purchase his photos, then that choice is yours. Supporting his work is the least important element here. Ensuring female photographers have a fair platform to express and share their experiences is what’s key. And more so, that the large collectives like Magnum take them seriously. We don’t want to live in a world where women are ignored so organizations can protect their reputation.

Is David Alan Harvey guilty? That’s not for me to say. But it seems we’re going in the right direction to ensure we find out.

Dan Ginn

Dan Ginn is a content writer and journalist. He brings with him five years' experience writing in the photographic niche. During that time he has worked with a range of leading brands, as well as a host professional photographers within the industry.