Q&A with National Geographic Photographer: Steve McCurry

I have truly admired Steve McCurry’s photography for many years, and April this year I had the exciting opportunity to meet him in person at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Italy.

Most people will recognise his work from the famous portrait of the ‘Afghan girl’.

The girl behind this photo was 12 year old Gula, a refugee living in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Gula’s parents were killed during the soviet strike, and she was forced to trek to a neighbouring refugee camp with her siblings, after such hardship it is no surprise her eyes express such struggle and fear.  This photo alone made the cover of National Geographic magazine and was likened to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting the ‘Mona Lisa’.

A few years back I was lucky enough to see Steve McCurry’s live exhibition and I stood amazed by his magnified prints. I hope to share with you a snippet of his work and an interview with the man himself to delve deeper into his style and motivations as a travel photographer.

Below is a collection of some of his famous pieces from around the world.

Baby in a bicycle – Cambodia Holidays

Procession of nuns, Rangoon, Burma – Far East Holidays

Sleeping with snake – Cambodia Holidays

Shaolin Munks in Training – China Holidays

Dust Storm, Rajasthan, India – India Holidays

Q & A – Steve McCurry

What is your style of photography?

My work celebrates people and culture. I like to tell a story with my photos of the person’s life, particularly those shot in places of conflict as I feel it is important to share with the world, visually, what is going on in these countries.

As a well-known Asia photographer, what attracted you to this area?

There is a big contrast between photographing the western countries compared to regions of Asia. In underdeveloped parts of Asia I find the people more interesting visually and also easier to photograph. Unlike other countries, their lives are also lived very much in the open space on the street so it’s not as difficult to capture them at work or play.

How would you sum up your photography career?

It has been challenging and fun. Compared to when I started 30 years ago, my work has improved a great deal, and I am now in a fortunate position where I can pick and choose my projects. Not only have I got to see some amazing places, but I can’t think of a better way to spend your life than exploring this amazing planet.

Top photography tips:

1)     Be friendly – you need to establish a rapport to gain peoples trust in order for them to feel relaxed in front of the camera. In return, you’ll get a genuine and natural shot.

2)     Patience is a virtue – top photographers might stay in the same position for hours waiting for the perfect moment to capture the shot they know will eventually appear.

3)     Black & white – look out for strong contrasting colours, to make your photos more interesting and stand out.

Would you like to visit Asia?

If you would like to visit some of the places Steve McCurry captured in his photos, then please visit www.holidaysplease.co.uk/holidays/far-east/ and let our travel experts talk you through the amazing wonders of Asia.


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