Lesson 2 Assignment.

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    Siddhartha R

    Hi there!

    For this assignment, I chose to highlight the work of famed photojournalist ‘Steve McCurry’. McCurry was born in 1950 in Philadelphia, USA. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Theater Arts in 1974. He found his interest in photography when he started taking pictures for the Penn State newspaper.

    McCurry has traveled all over the world to photograph people, places, and events. He has risked his life on many occasions to cover armed conflicts. He focuses on capturing the essence of struggle on the human face inflicted by war. He is best known for his ‘Afghan Girl’ portrait, which he shot in an Afghan refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan in 1984.

    McCurry captures people, without any interest in manipulation, as truly as he can. He says this about how he captures his subject “If you wait long enough, people will forget you have a camera and their soul will drift into view”. He also said “A relaxed expression has everything to do with the light. If the light is too harsh, your subject will squint and their face is screwed up. If the light is soft enough. their faces will be more relaxed and you will get a much more pleasing portrait”. For him, the perfect light is an overcast grey sky. “I like a cloudy day with a wonderful grey sky. That is my optimum shooting condition”. Interestingly, despite his preference for low light, his portraits almost always incorporate catchlights in the subject’s eyes. He also takes advantage of colour. The colours in his photographs are vibrant, and rich.

    I especially like the ‘Dust Storm in the Desert’ which was shot in Jaisalmer during McCurry’s visit to India before the monsoon in 1983. I can easily relate to this picture as I visit this particular region (Rajasthan State) very often. The climate here is extremely hot and changes rapidly with frequent dust storms. A typical dust storm will last only a couple of minutes and is very hard to predict. As the storm strikes with fierce winds and thick blanket of sand moving across the land, its difficult for anyone to stand their ground and be able to breathe. The women in this picture gathered and prayed as they were overwhelmed by the storm. This reflects their resolution to outlive the storm.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Hi there,

    Thanks for posting your assignment. I’m glad you’ve taken the time to do what the assignment asks and really put some thought into this.

    Steve McCurry is certainly one of the great living photographers.

    His portrait of the Afghan Girl is probably one of the most famous portraits of someone who isn’t famous. I’m sure you’ve seen it but they went back and found her many many years later. He is probably one of the greatest photographers that I can think of. He is an absolute master of light and capturing remarkable images. As you mentioned one of his great strengths is his mastery of color in photography.

    Just take a quick glance at his blog and you’ll see what I’m talking about. The guy is amazing.

    Keep studying his work. He is a living legend. Keep his work in the back of your mind just so you know what is possible with photography. Use it as inspiration to work on what you like taking photographs of.

    For anyone else looking at this you can learn more about Steve McCurry here

    He (or his studio) is on Twitter here:

    Nice job here.

    See you on the next assignment.

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