Magnum Photos Has Suspended Photojournalist David Alan Harvey Following Allegations of Harassment

It’s the first time in the agency’s history that a member has been suspended. 

Photographer David Alan Harvey attends the Lucie Awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, 2009. Photo: Andy Kropa/Getty Images.

In August, the board of the Magnum Photos agency voted to suspend American photojournalist David Alan Harvey while it carried out an investigation into allegations of harassment. Now, the agency has issued a formal suspension of one year, according to an announcement.

Magnum, the world’s most prominent photo cooperative, will not represent Harvey’s archive during that punitive period. It’s the first time in the agency’s history that a member has been suspended—and it comes amid a wider reckoning for the organization.

This summer, a member of the Magnum board was notified of a complaint that Harvey had harassed a female colleague, the agency explained. Details of the incident, including the date, circumstance, and nature of the harassment have not been released.  

The complaint came to light days after another controversy made headlines involving Harvey and a series of explicit photographs he published in the late 1980s documenting sex workers in Thailand. That body of work, titled “THAILAND. Bangkok Prostitutes,” depicted what many believe to be exploited underage women. Harvey could not be reached for comment by Artnet News, but has previously denied that the subjects of the photos in question were underage, according to the PetaPixel

Magnum has since removed the series from its archives.

In its most recent announcement, shared October 28, Magnum clarified that Harvey’s suspension was only related to the allegation of harassment and not the Thailand series. 

“After a thorough investigation carried out by an independent investigator, Magnum’s board, with the assistance of outside legal counsel, concluded that the behavior represented a breach of its code of conduct and bylaws,” the agency said. “A year-long suspension was found to be the appropriate sanction for Mr. Harvey’s breach of the bylaws and the code of conduct that all members adopted in 2018.”

In addition to the suspension, Harvey will be required to undergo sensitivity and anti-harassment training. Magnum has also launched an “independent speak-up hotline” with the whistleblowing service Safecall and says that its “policies regarding conduct and acceptable behavior are being further strengthened.”

The company has not publicly shared its code of conduct, despite calls to do so from photographers and other members of the industry on social media. The organization did not immediately respond to Artnet News’s request for more details on how these policies are being changed.

Sparked by the complaints surrounding Harvey’s Thailand series, the agency says it is now conducting an internal, in-depth review of its archive. The goal, the agency’s president, Olivia Arthur, said in a statement, is “to make sure that we fully understand the implications of the work in the archive, both in terms of imagery and context.”

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