Photographer: Steve McCurry





Photographer: Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has become one of the most recognized photographers in America and around the world. His work spans multiple continents and cultures. His love for adventure, people, and life are evident in his work. He does not just focus on the obvious but he uses his photographs to tell more information about the events that are taking place. To him, a war is not just a war, as it involves more than just guns and bullets, or even bloodshed and suffering. He is interested in find more effects and details. Therefore, he captures the questioning eyes, the smiling faces, the yearning for hope, and the joys of life. He has been a professional photographer for more than thirty years and he has received recognition and numerous awards for his work.

McCurry believes that every picture has a story. He aims to tell the stories of the people he encounters as well as the events he experiences through his photography

McCurry was born in Philadelphia in 1950. He became interested in photography at the age of 11 after seeing a photograph of the Indian monsoons. The image had a lasting effect on him. In college, he ended up taking a course in theater arts. He took a job in Today’s Post where he was given different assignments to cover. He felt a desire to learn more and he left for India intending to study and freelance for three years, but he ended up staying for two years. His career as a professional photographer was launched in 1984, when he disguised himself and went to Afghanistan. He took the image of a single afghan girl, which captured the hearts of many. Over the years, McCurry has continued on his quest to cover the images of life and humanity and to tell the stories that are not as obvious as the events that are taking place.

McCurry has covered many events in his life. However, he has covered many conflicts and wars in places such as Iraq, Cambodia, Iran, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Lebanon. His coverage includes images of different elements. He does not just focus on the conflict itself but he aims at showing the cost of war to humanity and the environment. He shows the consequences of war by photographing people who have been injured. Some of the people in the images are dead and they have been abandoned on the streets. Other images show stranded parents, grandparents, and children who have been left homeless. Others show the financial costs of the war through the destroyed buildings and property.

The children in the two images below are captured in different settings. The first image shows children engaging in play despite their obvious danger they are in, since they are in the midst of war. The children in the second image are playing and they are having fun despite the challenges they are facing. They live in poverty and they were rescued from their communities who wanted to kill them as they saw them unworthy to live. In both situations, the children have cause to feel sorry for themselves. However, they choose to enjoy life and forget their problems for the time being.

Most people rarely consider the environmental costs of war. The environment suffers when people are engaged in war. McCurry tells the story of the environmental damage that occurs during war. Animals die and suffer because they cannot find food. Oil spills and other forms of pollution also cause suffering to the animals and they contribute to the destruction of the environment.

The two images below show the consequences and environmental costs of war.

Other than war, McCurry has photographed other events as well. As long as there is a story to be told, he will tell it through his photographs. He has gone to areas as far as India, Africa, and Tibet and he has covered the stories that the people experience. When he is not in war zones, he finds that he has to find way of telling genuine stories by capturing them in natural settings performing their daily activities. He spends time with the people and gets familiar with them. He believes that a photographer needs to spend time with the people and gain their trust. The photographer then waits for the moment when the people forget that he is there and he captures his story. He believes that there has to be connected with his subject and with the picture on an emotional level. This is the essence of creating a good photograph. Therefore, he maintains eye contact with his subject and he manages to see deep within them.

McCurry is interested in the human experience. He captures people in their daily lives as they struggle through the challenges and as they engage in celebrations. He embraces color as he aims to capture the cultures and diversity of people. He appreciates cultural diversity and any other form of difference that is present among people and places. His works communicates the uniqueness of humanity. At the same time, his work is a reflection of how much people are the same irrespective of their nationalities, color, race, gender, and culture. They love and embrace life and they find moments to smile and laugh even in the midst of their calamities. They face struggles and challenges with a hope and a yearning for a better tomorrow. McCurry manages to tell such stories of human experience in his iconic photographs.

Cultural diversity

In the two images below, McCurry shows two children engaged in the same activity. The first child is helping his parent in the farm in Afghanistan and the second child is preparing to go to the farm in Niger. These photographs tell the story of similarity among people irrespective of their nationalities or any other distinguishing element.

McCurry’s photographs are considered iconic. They are powerful and they communicate to whoever sees them. On the technical side, they are a reflection of what perfect photographs should like. He embraces digital technology and he believes that one can capture good photographs using the newer technologies. He applies some specifications and rules to ensure that he gets the perfect image. His use of natural lighting makes the images more dramatic and aesthetically appealing. His photographs apply the rule of thirds. He does this by placing the points of interests at intersections and positioning the important elements along lines. He uses natural lines to lead the eye to the picture. The use of diagonal lines is essential for creating good movement. He also takes advantage of natural frames such as doors and windows. Filling the frame is important, and he achieves this by getting close to the subjects. In a majority of his photos, he has managed to guide his subjects into looking directly at the camera. By placing the dominant eye at the center of the photo, he gives the impression that the subject’s eye is watching and following the person looking at the image. He also takes advantage of the patterns and repetition that are present in human representation and natural forms.

In this image, the use of pattern and symmetry as well as the contrast between the natural and the human made environment captivate the eye and make the image aesthetically appealing.

McCurry is guided by passion and curiosity. He has a natural eye for capturing beauty in all its forms. He shows this in the way he photographs landscapes, animals, and portraits. He is able to see beauty in all places, irrespective of the situation at the time. He captures the smile of a child as he plays even though the child is facing diverse challenges. His works are a reflection of his beliefs.


Works Cited

Cravatts, Sara. 9 Photo Composition Tips from Steve McCurry. 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2015

Little, Myles. “30 Years, 20 Passports: Untold Stories of Steve McCurry’s Photographic Life.” Time. 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2015

Simons, Jake W. “The Story behind the World’s Most Famous Photograph.” CNN. 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2015

Steve McCurry. Image Galleries. Web. 24 Apr. 2015






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