Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; photographer Steve McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, Steve McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India. Travelling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera. It was after several months of travel that 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 full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, Steve McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.
Since then, Steve McCurry has gone on to create stunning images over six continents and countless countries. His work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike – yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl such a powerful image. Steve McCurry is perhaps best known forAfghan Girl – an image that originally appeared in the National Geographic magazine. The image itself was named as ‘the most recognised photograph’ in the history of the National Geographic magazine and her face became famous as the cover photograph on the June 1985 issue. The photo has also been widely used on Amnesty International brochures, posters, and calendars.
Steve McCurry continued to cover armed conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War, Lebanon Civil War, the Cambodian Civil War, the Islamic insurgency in the Philippines, the Gulf War and the Afghan Civil War. His work has been featured worldwide in magazines and he is a frequent contributor to National Geographic. He has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1986.
Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face. I try to convey what it is like to be that person, a person caught in a broader landscape, that you could call the human condition.
Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name. Steve McCurry has been recognised with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, Magazine Photographer of the Year, and an unprecedented four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest, to name a few. Steve McCurry is portrayed in a TV documentary The Face of the Human Condition (2003) by French award-winning filmmaker Denis Delestrac. In May 2012, Steve McCurry was Pirelli’s inspired choice of photographer to shoot the pictures for the 2013 Pirelli Calendar in Rio de Janeiro.