Steve McCurry was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
and he graduated "cum laude" from the College of Arts
and Architecture at Penn State University. He worked for a newspaper
for about two years and then he headed to India as a freelance
Photographer Steve McCurry
McCurry learned to be patient when taking photographs
while he was in India. He said he stayed close by while people
became accustomed to his presence, and then they would forget
that he had a camera, and he could photograph, them, as "the
soul will drift up into view".
Recognized the world over for his wondrous images,
his color photography is what he is best-known for. He strives
to capture the essense of the joys and struggles of humanity.
McCurry's career took off when he dressed in native
clothing and snuck from Pakistan into rebel-occupied Afghanistan
before the Russians invaded that country in the 1980's. He came
back with film rolls sewn into his clothing. The images he captured
there have been published all around the world, being the first
to show the Afghan conflict with Russia.
Due to his coverage of the beginnings of that
war, he won the Robert Capa Gold
Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad. This award
has been dedicated to photographers who show exceptional enterprise
He has received many awards, including
the Magazine Photographer of the Year, which was awarded
by the National Press Photographers Association. That
same year, he also won four first places at the World
Press Photo contest.
McCurry's photographs have been featured in many
major magazines, and they often appear in the pages of National
Geographic. He has submitted works on Iraq, Afghanistan, Tibet
and Yemen, and also a photojournal of Angkor Wat, Cambodia's
He has covered conflict a great deal in his ventures,
including trips to Cambodia, Beirut, the Philippines, former
Yugoslavia, the Gulf War, Tibet and Afghanistan. His focus is
not on the fighting itself, but rather on the consequences that
befall humanity during wars, and showing also how war affects
The most famous portrait in the world, that of
a young Afghan girl taken in 1985, is McCurry's most famous
photograph, too, of course. She was unidentified until he went
back and found her in 2002. McCurry was able to get this photo
in the first place when he was on assignment in 1985 in Pakistan,
working on photographs of the border regions of Pakistan and
Afghanistan. He went past a tent and it was a school for girls.
The teacher invited him in, and he immediately noticed one girl
with piercing green eyes.
He photographed her with her hands covering her
face first, and then the teacher urged the young girl to allow
herself to be photographed. She removed her hands from covering
her face, and he got two frames with that intense look that
would appear on national and international magazine covers.
Then she ran away. He didn't see her again until he traveled
back to the region, in 2002, and rediscovered her.
McCurry was in Manhattan, NYC, USA on September
11, 2001. He heard that the World Trade Center was on fire from
a neighbor, and he ran to his roof and began taking photographs.
He thought at that time that they were fires that would be put
out. He did not have a TV or radio, so he didn't know about
the planes that had been purposely flown into the buildings.
After the buildings fell, he went to the Hole,
which is what the first responders would call Ground Zero, and
documented some of the search for survivors. He was eventually
caught and chased away, because the firefighters, policemen
and others felt that he was just a tourist, trying to capitalize
on their search for the wounded (which there were few of) and
the dead. McCurry understood their anger, but he said he needed
to document that search. It was an important day in history.
The Rumor Mill
The rumor mill has turned up a few tidbits of
information besides the factual Steve McCurry biography presented
above. And that is, according to rumors and vicious innuendos,
McCurry once swallowed Mentos and Diet Coke at the same time
which propelled him into low Earth orbit. Elton John wrote a
song about the experience calling it "Rocket Man."