Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.
Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl, near Peshawar, Pakistan
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 with 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 a full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahedeen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.
Steve has gone on to create stunning images on all seven 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.
McCurry also states, “I have found that I get completely consumed by the importance of the story I am telling, the feeling that the world has got to know. It’s never about the adrenaline. It’s about the story.”
KUWAIT. Al Ahmadi oil field. 1991
McCurry has published numerous books including more recently, Afghanistan (2017), A Life in Pictures (2018), Animals (2019).
2019 Inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame
2019 Flaiano Career Award, Pescara, Italy
2016 Lucie Award for Book Publisher of the Year, 21st Editions, Humanity, New York, NY
2016 Honorary Doctorate and Honorary Professorship, Amity University, Uttar Pradesh, India
2013 Appointed Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, France
2012 Pictures of the Year International Book Award for The Iconic Photographs
2011 Leica Hall of Fame Award, St. Moritz, Switzerland
2005 Photographic Society of America Photojournalism Division-International Understanding through Photography Award
2002 Photographer of the Year, PMDA Professional Photographer Award
2002 Photographer of the Year, American Photo Magazine
1999 Pennsylvania State University, PA, Lifetime Fellow Award
1993 National Press Photographers Association, Award of Excellence for ‘Rubble of War’
1992 World Press Photo Competition
First Place, Nature and Environment: ‘Oil-Stricken Bird’, Kuwait
First Place, General News Stories: ‘Kuwait after the Storm’
Children’s Award: ‘Camels under a Blackened Sky’
1984 World Press Competition, Four First Prize First place, Nature and Nature Series; First place, Daily Life and Daily Life Series