Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA in 1950 McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University graduating in 1974 and became interested in photography when he started taking pictures for the Penn State newspaper The Daily Collegian before going on to work at Today’s Post in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania for two years. He then left for India to freelance, it was in India that McCurry said he learned to watch and wait on life. “If you wait people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view.”
He became internationally known with the 1985 publication of probably his most famous photograph “Afghan Girl” This occurred after several months of travel in India when 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 a full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the war in Afghanistan so putting a human face to the conflict.
McCurry gained some of the most prestigious awards in the photographic industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, The National Press Photographers Award and an unprecedented four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest. He continues to be an active and prolific photographer, after many years of covering conflicts he now covers a wide range of subjects including landscapes. His repertoire overflows with decades of photographs from all over the world he has spent many years and made countless return visits to his favourite region of South and South East Asia, capturing memorable images from Sri Lanka, Tibet, Cambodia, Myanmar, Afghanistan and, especially, India.
Although McCurry shoots in both digital and film, his admitted preference is for transparency film. As an example of the esteem he is held in Eastman Kodak choose him to shoot the last ever roll of Kodachrome transparency film produced, which was processed in July 2010 by Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas and is housed at the George Eastman House. According to McCurry “I shot it [Kodachrome] 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.”
Biography Sources (www.stevemcurry.com), ( www.philly.com interview Lini S. Kadaba Sep 2000),
He is best known for evocative colour photography, his images are in the finest documentary tradition, McCurry captures the essence of human struggle and joy. He has covered many conflicts and his images of war tend to focus on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face. In this way his images have a more human quality and without showing the shockingly graphic images of conflict of some of his peers he nonetheless manages to powerfully convey the impact war has on individuals.
In addition to his war images he is a noted landscape and portrait photographer, especially noted for his masterful use and control of colour. In 2011 he published a book “Steve McCurry: The Iconic Images” which is a large format book containing 100’s of his best images reproduced full size and with excellent quality colour printing. This book is a classic reference for anyone interested in colour photography.
Example Images from “The Iconic Images” (Click on the images to enlarge, back button to return)
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