Steve McCurry: On His Photojournalistic Experiences and Work in the Last 30 Years

Steve McCurry, recognized universally as one of today’s finest image-makers, has won many of photographys top awards. Best known for his evocative color photography, McCurry, in the finest documentary tradition, captures the essence of human struggle and joy. Member of Magnum Photos since 1986, McCurry has searched and found the unforgettable; many of his images have become modern icons. Born in Philadelphia, McCurry graduated cum laude from the College of Arts and Architecture ant the Pennsylvania State University. After working at a newspaper for two years, he left for India to freelance It was in India 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 Afghanistan just before the Russian invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes of images that wold be published around the world as among the firs to show the conflict there. His coverage won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad, an award dedicated to photographers exhibiting exceptional courage and enterprise. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Magazine Photographer of the Year, awarded by the national Press Photographers Association. That was the same year in which he won an unprecedented four first prizes in the World Press Photo Contest. He has won the Olivier Rebbot Memorial Award twice.

Steve McCurry has covered many areas of international and civil conflict, including the Iran-Iraq war, the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, Beirut, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Gulf War, and continuing coverage of Afghanistan. He focuses on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face.

McCurry work has been featured in every major magazine in the world and frequently appears in National Geographic magazine with recent articles on the Hazaras of Afghanistan, Buddhism, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia. McCurry is driven by and innate curiosity and sense of wonder about the world and everyone in it. He has an uncanny ability to cross boundaries of language and culture to capture stories of human experience. Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking our, experience etched on a persons 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.

A high point in his career was the rediscovery of the previously unidentified Afghan refugee girl that many have described as the most recognizable photograph in the world today. When McCurry finally located Sharbat Gula after almost two decades, he said Her skin is weathered; there area winkles now, but she is a striking as she was all those years age. McCurry returned from an extended assignment in China on September 10, 2001. His coverage at Ground Zero on September 11 is a testament to the heroism and nobility of the people of New York City. You felt the horror and immediately, instinctively understood that our lives would never be the same again.

McCurry has published many books including, In the Shadows of Mountains (2007), Looking East (2003), Sanctuary (2002), South Southeast (2000) Portraits (1999), Monsoon (1988), The Imperial Way(1985).

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