Steve McCurry – Afghanistan, part I

Steve McCurry, Kuchi Nomads at Prayer, 1992. © and Courtesy, Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry’s autobiographical video series continues with a focus on his first, eye-opening travel in Afghanistan in 1978. In the few weeks he spent there, McCurry found a country of opposites – a place that was so beautiful, rich and welcoming, as it was trobled and unhospitable. His images of the conflict between the US-backed Mujahideen rebels and the Soviet-backed Afghan Government were amongst the first that the world was seeing.

Since then, McCurry has been back to Afghanistan more than 30 times over the years, to expose the hardships and injustices faced by the Shiite minority heavily discriminated against by the Sunni Pashtuns majority. The book ‘Afghanistan’, published by Taschen, offers a retrospective portfolio of his most striking images of the country, from 1979 to 2016.


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Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for over three decades, documenting conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture. His image of a young Afghan refugee with piercing eyes—the June 1985 National Geographic cover—has become one of the most distinctive in photographic history.
Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India. Travelling with little more than a bag of clothes and another filled with film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera.
Since then, McCurry has gone on to create evocative images in over six continents and countless countries, with scores of magazine and book covers, as well as solo global exhibitions. Despite his prolific output his pictures always retain the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl so powerful. He has published many books and retrospectives, including Monsoon (1988), The Path to Buddha (2003), Portraits (1999), On Reading (2016), Steve McCurry: A Life in Pictures (2018) and most recently, Animals (2019).
McCurry has been recognised with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, National Press Photographers Award, and an unprecedented four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest.