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Steve McCurry

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
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 and courage.

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.
Afghan Girl
Afghan Girl

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 temples.

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 landscape.

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.

Steve McCurry Photo

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."

 


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