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Steve McCurry (b. 1950)

steve mccurry

Steve McCurry is unquestionably one of the most successful and respected living photographers.

Though his interest in the visual first led him to a course in cinematography at Pennsylvania State University, it was while studying there that he began taking photos for the college newspaper, The Daily Collegiate. He was hooked.

He continued in photojournalism on graduation, and in 1978, having saved a bit of money, was drawn to the visual possibilities of India. It proved a pivotal experience; the inspiring diversity of colour, life and activity prolonged a six week trip to a two year adventure. He travelled throughout the Subcontinent, exploring India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.


The Unguarded Moment, by S. McCurry

This is just a stunningly good book! The production quality matches the photography, which is no mean feat.

This experience prepared him well for a major assignment with National Geographic magazine that soon followed: reporting for seven months on the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Disguised in native dress and with photographic film sewn into his clothes, Steve McCurry crossed the border into Afganistan. He captured images of the conflict for the western media that would win him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad.

Assignments on international conflicts continued, but he retained a passion for South East Asia. Images of people going about their daily lives, full of diverse and contrasting expressions of identity, are observed with an almost anthropological interest.


These frictions - between past and present, the sacred and the profane, the domestic and the exotic - invigorate me. My impulse is to share them, to draw a circle of stillness around them...

-Steve McCurry


In the Shadow of Mountains, by S. McCurry

This was the first of McCurry's books that I bought and it blew me away! It's a collection of Steve McCurry images from Afghanistan: The people, places and landscapes.

steve mccurry in the shadow of mountains


A circle of stillness that is augmented by an incredible eye for rich colour, texture, contrast and, often, the precise moment afghan girlwhen everything can be best captured to give it full expression.

These abilities and love of the Subcontinent combined with events in 1985, when Steve McCurry produced arguably the most iconic image of the modern world: The Afghan Girl.

The shot was taken in a Pakistani refugee camp of 12 year old Sharbat Gula, who had been forced to flee Afghanistan when her parents where killed by a Soviet airstrike.

The image first appeared on National Geographic, but soon spread throughout the world and came to represent the conflict. The young girl is turned towards the camera, pretty, with incredibly intense, bewildered eyes. Her shawl is torn, and the effect is a fascinating mix of beauty and damage.

Interest in the conflict and the area soared on the publication of the shot, along with donations

The following year Steve McCurry was made a member of the Magnum photo agency.

He continues to produce stunning images, particularly in the world of South-East Asia. He likes to spend time with the people he photographs and get to know them a bit. Many of his shots are primarily carried by the expressions on his subjects' faces.


Portraits, by S. McCurry

This is fantastic little book packed with loads of his amazing portrait photos.

The pages are very small but there are lots of them! It's a great little companion to have around if you are a fan of portrait photography.

portraits steve mccurry


His most recent publication is The Unguarded Moment, a large, wonderfully produced book of his most beautiful photographs from the last thirty years. Here's my review of McCurry's The Unguarded Moment


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