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Steve McCurry
France, 2012 Photo by © Bruno Barbey
Steve McCurry
Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

Country: United States
Birth: 1950

Steve McCurry has been 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 Mujahedeen, 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 on all seven 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. The Minister of French Culture has also appointed McCurry a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters and most recently, the Royal Photographic Society in London awarded McCurry the Centenary Medal for Lifetime Achievement.

McCurry has published books including The Imperial Way (1985), Monsoon (1988), Portraits (1999 | 2013), South Southeast (2000), Sanctuary (2002), The Path to Buddha: A Tibetan Pilgrimage (2003), Steve McCurry (2005), Looking East (2006), In the Shadow of Mountains (2007), The Unguarded Moment, (2009), The Iconic Photographs (2011), Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs (2013), From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail (2015), India (2015), On Reading (2016), Afghanistan (2017), A Life in Pictures (2018), Animals (2019), In Search of Elsewhere: Unseen Images (2020).

@stevemccurryofficial

"What is important to my work is the individual picture. I photograph stories on assignment, and of course they have to be put together coherently. But what matters most is that each picture stands on its own, with its own place and feeling" -- Steve McCurry


If the photographer's images have made the rounds of newspapers around the world, like the portrait of the young Afghan woman with piercing eyes, it is also due to their aesthetic impact. Steve McCurry spoke of the importance of colour in his photographs, the importance of post-production and retouching, and their ability to touch the viewer: "each single picture has its single story, and we put ours in it" (Steve McCurry). "Sometimes with pictures and photography, what is interesting is that the imagination can go off in different directions. Everything should not be explained" (Steve McCurry): the photographer stresses the importance of leaving their share of mystery to the photographs.

Steve McCurry was confronted with the horror of war; his images bear witness to this. If Susan Sontag suggests in Regarding the Pain of Others that photography “beautifies” and “bleaches out a moral response to what is shown”, the photographer brings an entirely different perspective to the issue. He refers to the mission of war reporters to fight against the blindness and ineptitude of public opinion: "Should we be informed about what's happening in our world? Should we let our governments tell us ? I think that would be a very bad idea. [...] Somebody has to go and give us their impression. We need some person to go there and find the truth" (Steve McCurry).

Source: www.sciencespo.fr

 

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More Great Photographers To Discover

Robert Heinecken
United States
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Robert Heinecken was an American artist who referred to himself as a "paraphotographer" because he so often made photographic images without a camera. Born in Denver in 1931, Heinecken grew up in Riverside, California, the son of a Lutheran minister. He joined the Navy in 1954 and served as a fighter pilot (though too short, he passed a height test by padding his socks with paper). Heinecken later served as an officer in the Marines, discharged as a captain in 1957. Heinecken completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in art at UCLA, where he studied printmaking as well as photography. Heinecken was known for appropriating and re-processing images from magazines, product packaging or television. In Are You Rea series from 1964 to 1968, for instance, he created a portfolio of images filled with unexpected and sometimes surreal juxtapositions by placing a single magazine page on a light table, so that the resulting contact print picks up imagery from both sides of the page. In the late 1960s, he also began cutting up popular magazines such as Time and Vogue and inserting sexual or pornographic images into them. He would place his collage-publications back on newsstands in Los Angeles to be sold to unsuspecting buyers. In 1962, he founded the photography program at UCLA. He taught there until 1991. In 1964 he helped found the Society for Photographic Education, an organization of college-level teachers. He also taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where his second wife, Joyce Neimanas, was on faculty. They split their time between the two cities for several years before they moved to New Mexico in 2004. As a professor at UCLA, Heinecken was a prime mover in the Los Angeles art photography scene. His influence was felt by many students and associates. Among them were John Divola, Eileen Cowin, Graham Howe, Jo Ann Callis and Ray McSavaney. Many of them, in turn, became influences on succeeding generations of art photographers. From 1971 on he started to expose food directly on light-sensitive materials. He realized these "documentary photograms" first on black and white paper and later in color in the series Various Lunches on positive Ilfochrome paper. In 1983/84 he created such Foodograms even on large polaroid sheets (20x24 inches) in collaboration with John Reuter in San Diego and Boston. In the 1980s, he created several series on American news television that involved photographing images on the television or exposing the light of a television set directly to paper to create what he called "videograms." During his life he was mainly shown in traditional photography galleries, but two contemporary art galleries in L.A. began staging exhibitions of his work after his death: Marc Selwyn Fine Art and Cherry and Martin. Curators like Eva Respini at the Museum of Modern Art now place his work in a conceptual art lineage, associating him with Pictures Generations artists such as Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari and Richard Prince.
Helmut Newton
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Helmut Newton was a German-Australian photographer. The New York Times described him as a "prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications." Newton was born in Berlin, the son of Klara "Claire" (née Marquis) and Max Neustädter, a button factory owner. Newton attended the Heinrich-von-Treitschke-Realgymnasium and the American School in Berlin. Interested in photography from the age of 12 when he purchased his first camera, he worked for the German photographer Yva (Elsie Neuländer Simon) from 1936. 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The exhibition of New Visions in Photography' was displayed at the Federal Hotel in Collins Street and was probably the first glimpse of New Objectivity photography in Australia. Newton went into partnership with Henry Talbot, a fellow German Jew who had also been interned at Tatura, and his association with the studio continued even after 1957, when he left Australia for London. The studio was renamed Helmut Newton and Henry Talbot. Newton's growing reputation as a fashion photographer was rewarded when he secured a commission to illustrate fashions in a special Australian supplement for Vogue magazine, published in January 1956. He won a 12-month contract with British Vogue and left for London in February 1957, leaving Talbot to manage the business. Newton left the magazine before the end of his contract and went to Paris, where he worked for French and German magazines. He returned to Melbourne in March 1959 to a contract for Australian Vogue. 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Richard Murai
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