Rikaze, Tibet Autonomous Region, 1989.
© Steve McCurry
There’s a good chance that you’ve seen Steve McCurry’s photographs many times over the last 40 years or so. Quite a few of them have appeared on the cover of National Geographic, most famously that of a young Afghan girl with piercing green eyes. While his work has been published in countless travel magazines and online sites, he is far more than a travel photographer. McCurry, whose work has a strong and almost instantly recognizable look, is closer to an anthropologist and poetic documentarian, capturing not only the foreign locales but letting us glimpse the souls of the subjects he photographs. He has served as a war photographer in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq as well as an astute observer of ancient cultures on the brink of change. Recognized with the Robert Capa Gold Medal, among many other honors, and recently inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame, he is publishing In Search of Elsewhere: Unseen Images on November 24, 2020. I caught up with McCurry on the eve of the book’s release.
Hội An, Vietnam, 2019.
© Steve McCurry
Everett Potter: Steve, I have been a fan of your work since The Imperial Way, the landmark book you did with Paul Theroux on the railways of India back in 1981. It is still on my shelves. In the nearly 40 years since that work was published, how much more challenging is it for you as a photographer to discover the truly undiscovered?
Steve McCurry: My goal was never to discover the undiscovered. My goal was always to document the human condition where and when I found it.