Steve McCurry

American Photographer | Born: 1950

Steve McCurry has been a one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name. Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India.

Traveling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera. It was after several months of travel that he found himself crossing the border into Pakistan. There, he met a group of refugees from Afghanistan, who smuggled him across the border into their country, just as the Russian Invasion was closing the country to all western journalists. Emerging in traditional dress, with full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.

Since then, McCurry has gone on to create stunning images over six continents and countless countries. His work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike - yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl such a powerful image. McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, National Press Photographers Award, and an unprecedented four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest, to name a few.

Source: stevemccurry.com


Steve McCurry was born on February 24, 1950 in Pennsylvania, attended Penn State University. He originally planned to study cinematography and filmmaking, but ended up getting a degree in theater arts and graduating in 1974. He became interested in photography when he started taking pictures for the Penn State newspaper The Daily Collegian. After working at Today's Post in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania for two years, he left for India to freelance. It was here that McCurry learned to watch and wait on life. "If you wait," he realized, "people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view."

His career was launched when, disguised in native garb, he crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled areas of Afghanistan just before the Soviet invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes. Those images, which were published around the world, were among the first to show the conflict. His coverage won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise. McCurry continued to cover armed conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War, Lebanon Civil War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines, the Gulf War and the Afghan Civil War. His work has been featured worldwide in magazines and he is a frequent contributor to National Geographic.

He has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1986. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Magazine Photographer of the Year, awarded by the National Press Photographers Association. The same year, he won an unprecedented four first-place prizes in the World Press Photo contest. McCurry focuses on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face. “Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face. I try to convey what it is like to be that person, a person caught in a broader landscape, that you could call the human condition.” Steve McCurry is portrayed in a TV documentary The Face of the Human Condition (2003) by French award-winning filmmaker Denis Delestrac.

"Afghan Girl"
McCurry took his most recognized portrait, "Afghan Girl", in a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan. The image itself was named as "the most recognized photograph" in the history of the National Geographic magazine and her face became famous as the cover photograph on the June 1985 issue. The photo has also been widely used on Amnesty International brochures, posters, and calendars. The identity of the "Afghan Girl" remained unknown for over 17 years until McCurry and a National Geographic team located the woman, Sharbat Gula, in 2002. McCurry said, "Her skin is weathered; there are wrinkles now, but she is as striking as she was all those years ago."

Kodachrome:
Although McCurry shoots both in digital and film, his admitted preference is for transparency film. Eastman Kodak let him shoot the last ever produced roll of Kodachrome transparency film, which was processed in July 2010 by Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas and will be housed at the George Eastman House. Most of the photos, excluding a few near-duplicates, have been published on the Internet by Vanity Fair. "I shot it for 30 years and I have several hundred thousand pictures on Kodachrome in my archive. I'm trying to shoot 36 pictures that act as some kind of wrap up – to mark the passing of Kodachrome. It was a wonderful film."

Source: Wikipedia

McCurry: From These Hands, A Journey Along the Coffee Trail
Author: Steve McCurry
Publisher: Phaidon Press
Year: 2015 - Pages: 128
Award-winning photographer Steve McCurry’s celebration of coffee-growing communities around the world, from the foothills of the Andes and the South American rain forest to the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the Jungles of Vietnam.
A Portrait of Coffee Growers conveys the vibrancy of community life on coffee plantations around the world from the Andes and South American rain forests to the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the jungles of Vietnam. Portraits of workers and their families are presented alongside stunning natural landscapes that bring each coffee plantation to life. A brand new portfolio, featuring previously unpublished images from the last ten years, Source: A Portrait of Coffee Growers, is an exciting new addition to one of the world’s most admired and popular photojournalists body of work.
 
Steve McCurry: Untold - The Stories Behind the Photographs
Author: Steve McCurry
Publisher: Phaidon Press
Year: 2013 - Pages: 320
Steve McCurry's iconic images have made him one of the world's most popular photographers for more than 30 years. Now, for the first time, Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs will tell the stories behind over 200 stunning images taken by McCurry from across the globe, including Afghanistan, India, Tibet, Kuwait, the USA, and beyond.

Despite what you might think this is not another book with the same images over and over again. You can discover fourteen of his stories but also exclusive documents and anecdotes. If you don't remember in which circumstances the portrait of the Afghan girl was taken, you will find the full story in this book.
 
Steve McCurry: The iconic Photographs
Author: Steve McCurry
Publisher: Phaidon Press, Incorporated
Year: 2012 - Pages: 272
American photographer Steve McCurry (b.1950) is universally recognized as one of today's finest image-makers and has won many of photography's top awards. This special limited-edition monograph brings together the most memorable and beautiful of his images, taken around the world over the last 30 years. McCurry's ability to cross boundaries of language and culture to capture fleeting moments of human experience is unique. With his discerning eye for form and colour, shape and symmetry, he offers us windows into other worlds. Seen at the large scale of this new book, McCurry's images are particularly powerful: reproduced at slightly larger than life size, his portraits have an extraordinary immediacy and impact, while even the smallest details of his spectacular landscapes are clearly visible on the page. Portraits of children, pilgrims and farmers are presented alongside views of ancient temples, busy city streets, dramatic mountain landscapes and quiet scenes of daily life - people are seen fishing, playing, working and praying. The images are presented in an uninterrupted sequence for maximum impact, and all the photographs are shown at either full-page size or as double-page spreads. The back of the book contains extended picture captions accompanied by colour thumbnail images for quick identification.
 
McCurry: Looking East
Author: Steve McCurry
Publisher: Phaidon Press, Incorporated
Year: 2006 - Pages: 128
This publication, a sequel to Phaidon's 2000 publication "South Southeast", is a selection of Steve McCurry's most astounding and powerful portraits from South and Southeast Asia. McCurry takes photographs all over the world, for "National Geographic" magazine and his own projects, but it is the people, places, colours and forms of Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma) that have inspired his most sublime images - photographs which transcend their original editorial purpose to become classics of photography. Like "South Southeast", this book features a remarkable range of photographs with brief captions and a short essay introduces the book.
 
Portraits Steve McCurry
Author: Steve McCurry
Publisher: Phaidon Press
Year: 1999 - Pages: 512
Magnum photographer Steve McCurry never set out to take portraits. Critically acclaimed and recognized internationally for his classic reportage, over the last 20 years he has worked for the "National Geographic" and other publications on numerous assignments: along the Afghan border, in Baghdad, Beirut and the Sahel. McCurry's coverage of the monsoon won first prize in the World Press Awards, and was part of his portfolio when he was named Magazine Photographer of the Year in 1984. In 1985, McCurry photographed an Afghan girl for the "National Geographic". The intensity of the subject's eyes and her compelling gaze made this one of contemporary photography's most celebrated and best-known portraits. McCurry is now equally famous for his other portrayals of memorable faces that he has encountered while travelling throughout the world. Compelling, unforgettable and moving, McCurry's images are unique street portraits: unstylized and unposed snapshots of people that reveal the universality of human emotion.
 
David Bailey: SUMO
 
 

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