In 1985 National Geographic published a cover photo of young Afghan girl garbed in red with mesmerizing green eyes. The man who caught the world’s attention with this now iconic photo, is photojournalist Steve McCurry. In a post entitled, “The Story Behind Steve McCurry’s Iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ Photo” written by Michael Zhang of NPR’s petapixel.com, “McCurry was in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan in December 1984 when he came across the girl in a makeshift classroom. “I noticed this one little girl with these incredible eyes and I instantly knew that this was really the only picture I wanted to take”… According to Zhang, this particular photo became one of the most popular images to grace the cover of National Geographic.
McCurry went on to publish his unique and topical photographs from India, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Tibet, Yemen, and many other seldom seen places by the typical international traveler. According to his website stevemccurry.com, his work has been published in “scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world.” So, what is it that makes McCurry’s photographs so special, so unique? Perhaps it has something to do with his driving need to use his photographs to tell the untold story, the story very few of us will ever see or experience. Or, perhaps McCurry has the adventurer’s soul with the need to travel and record on film his adventures and the people he meets.
McCurry didn’t start out in photojournalism straight from high school, He attended Pennsylvania State University where he studied film, after which he worked for a local newspaper for several years. And yet, it seems that being a local photojournalist was not enough for him. He yearned to do more. After a time, he left his job at the newspaper and according to the bio on his website, stevencurry.com, “made his first of what would become many trips to India. Traveling 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.” In essence, McCurry channeled his need for adventure and went off to India to take photos of people and events that would introduce to viewers all over the world to little seen events and places in the Middle East. A world of color and drama, a world viewed through McCurry’s camera that was so much different than their own.