Who can forget the iconic portrait photograph of the Afghan Girl that appeared in the National Geographic magazine in June 1985. It was the most recognized image in the history of the magazine which captured a close-up shot of a girl in Peshawar, Pakistan in a refugee camp. The photographer who took this popular image is Steve McCurry who found the girl once again in 2002, after 17 years of her unknown identity.
Born in 1950 in Philadelphia, McCurry is a renowned photojournalist from America. Although, he had planned to study filmmaking and cinematography, he got a degree in theatre art and graduated in 1974. When he began taking photos for The Daily Collegian, a newspaper for the Penn State, McCurry developed an interest in photography.
The launch of his career occurred when he disguised as a native person and entered Afghanistan through Pakistan right before the Soviet Invasion was to happen. He saved a photographic documentation of the event and these images were published worldwide showing the conflict. For this project, he was presented the Robert Capa Gold Medal dedicated to photographers displaying extraordinary endeavor and valor.
Steve McCurry kept covering armed battle including Lebanon Civil War, the Afghan Civil War, the Gulf War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Islamic Insurgence in the Philippines. His work has been illustrated internationally in publications and McCurry frequently contributes to the National Geographic. In addition, since 1986, he has been a member of Magnum Photos.
McCurry has received many award between 1980 and 2011 including Magazine Photographer of the Year award by National Press Photographers Association in 1984, Award of Excellence: Spanish Gypsy by White House News Photographers Association in 1990, the Special Recognition Award by the United Nations International Photographic Council in 2002, Leica Hall of Fame Award by St.Moritz in Switzerland in 2011 and many more. In 2006, he received two Honorary Fellowships, one by the Royal Photography Society of Great Britain and the other by New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography.
Through his photography expeditions, Steve McCurry observes the consequences of war on people. He depicts not only the effects on landscapes but on human face as well. He aims to portray the imprudent moment, experiences imprinted on people’s face and a soul escaping.
In 2003, McCurry was portrayed in television documentary – The Face of the Human Condition – by Denis Delestrac (French award winning movie maker), .
Steve McCurry is found to be shooting in both film and digital, however his preference lies in transparency film. McCurry was allowed by Eastman Kodak to shoot using the transparency film, Kodakchrome – it was the last produced roll. Many of these photos have been published by Vanity Fair on the internet.
McCurry is universally recognized as one of the finest photographers of today and is famous for reminiscent color photography throughout the world.
He has published many books, such as The Imperial Way in 1985, Portraits in 1999, Sanctuary: The Temples of Angkor in 2002, The Path to Buddha: A Tibetan Pilgrimage in 2003, Steve McCurry in 2005, Looking East in 2006, In the Shadows of Mountains in 2007, The Unguarded Moment in 2009, and The Iconic Photographs in 2011.
McCurry is obsessed with an intrinsic curiosity about people and the world. He has a mysterious ability to transcend boundaries of culture and language in order to discover and document human experience stories.