Meeting Steve McCurry in the flesh
This past Wednesday, October 14 in the afternoon, famous American photographer Steve McCurry met the press at the official inauguration of his photographic retrospective, that opened to the public on Thursday, October 15 and will run until November 11 in the exhibition hall on Quai Antoine 1er in Monaco. This unique exposition, organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Principality, in collaboration with art curator Biba Giachetti owner of SudEst57 Fine Art Photography, who has been working with McCurry for over 18 years. She explained: “The objective, is to show that no matter the country or origin, social level or ethnicity, we are all of the mankind.” She also underlines “Steve McCurry’s capacity to capture human dignity.”
A hundred photos of men, women or children he met on his route, are part of this fantastic exhibition, where McCurry immortalized different subjects from all over the world. To complete the exhibition there are also a series of videos telling the stories behind the compelling images.
What a privilege to meet this exceptional award winning artist, born in a suburb of Philadephia, Pennsylvania in 1950. He studied film at PA State University, before going to work for a local newspaper. After I told him I had lived in Pennsylvania for many years, he said he had also worked in the mail room of a pharmaceutical company in the area. After several years of freelance work, in 1978 he left his job as staff photographer, and packed his bag with rolls of film and a one-way ticket to India, that was the beginning of his life long journey, covering six continents and countless countries, scrutinizing the world with his camera. He is true to the phrase attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Recognised several times with the World Press Photo Awards, considered like the Nobel Prize of photography, Steve McCurry is one of the great names of photography of our century. Through his exceptional career that spans more than three decades and counting, he built unforgettable experiences that marked him forever, photographing memorable images that record events and people in a constantly changing world. After all these years and some tough adventures, his passion for photography and travel has not dwindled, and has rekindled his faith in humankind, compassion and kindness.
In search of the Afghan Girl
Sharbat Gula, whose name means Sweet water flower girl, was living in a refugee camp near Peshewar in Pakistan in 1984, when Steve McCurry took the photo that graced the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic, the photo that made him famous. This powerful image, a mixed of strength and vulnerability, transformed this twelve year-old girl an iconic figure of the 20th century and put into evidence the tragedy of Afghanistan, the struggle of nation at war.
After 17 years the photographer managed to find Sharbat and returned with a crew for National Geographic. The retaliation that followed the 9/11 terrorists attacks on US soil, brought even more tension in that area of the world. McCurry arrived in Pakistan in 2002 and located the girl’s older brother Kashar Khan, who told him Sharbat had married and was living with her husband and two kids in the mountain caves. A photo Sharbat then 30 years old and wearing a burka holding her 1984 portrait, was published in the cover of the April 2002 issue of National Geographic. Living as a refugee she had certainly aged more than her years. To honor her, National Geographic created the charitable organization Afghan Girl Fund with the mission of providing educational opportunities to girls in Afghanistan, and later in 2008 extended it to Afghan boys. This demonstrates the power of photojournalism to engage, move and inspire people to create a dialogue for positive change.
Steve McCurry’s photography retrospective exhibition
- Salle du Quai Antoine 1er in Monaco
- October 15 to November 11, 2015
- Open everyday from 13:00 to 19:00, closed on Monday
- Information: +377 98 98 83 03