Steve McCurry–Dust Storm

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    Steve McCurry is the most inspiring photographer to me personally. I love the way he seeks to capture images around him instead of posing his models. A significant number of his photographs remind me of the Sartorialist (–in terms of the stumbled upon, everyday beauty on the street–but McCurry’s photos are superior in my regard because of his acute attention to detail in his portraits and his ability to capture the unguarded moments of his subjects.

    When I first fell in love with photography, I watched a video of McCurry describing the way he works. He explained that he simply walks around the city and allows the photographs to come to him. However, this is an incredibly simplified way of working; the truth is that he is constantly aware of the beauty and emotion around him and is prepared to capture that moment. This is what inspires me most about Steve McCurry. Anyone can take a beautiful photograph with a nice camera, but McCurry has developed the instinct to quickly compose, capture the light, position himself, and photograph the world around him in a stunning way, when others simply walk past those moments.

    My favorite subjects for photography are people, particularly faces that evoke profound emotion through their eyes. I can think of no better photographer than Steve McCurry in this realm, particularly his famous “Afghan Girl” image. I love the vibrancy of his images which sometimes border on over-saturation, but still remain on the natural side of that fine line. I particularly love these two starkly different portraits of a young girl ( and an elderly woman ( from Pakistan. The subjects are so different with the young, fresh skin and piercing eyes and the tired, knowing eyes nearly camouflaged against the deeply lined and weathered face, yet both images are incredibly beautiful and haunting. Portraits like these inspire me to seek out emotion in my photography.

    Despite the fact that I appreciate Steve McCurry for his portraits, my favorite photograph is actually the Dust Storm ( in India. I love the pops of color of the women’s clothing against the muted background. The movement of the fabric in the wind brings the photo to life. The light shining through the thick layer of blowing dust creates a stunning surreal background. It looks as though a sepia tone filter has been applied to the background and the horizon line has been wiped out entirely, but those factors only make the group of huddled women more vibrant. The composition beautifully portrays the emotion of the women banding together for comfort and protection against the elements.

    This photograph teaches me that incredible photographs can be captured despite unwelcome elements like dust storms and it is worth it to endure those elements for stunning photographs. It also shows me that evocative portraits can be taken even without the subject’s face and eyes being seen. As a whole, McCurry’s portfolio inspires me to be constantly vigilant about potential photographs all around me and to wholeheartedly embrace vibrant color in my images.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Thanks for submitting your assignment!

    Steve McCurry is indeed a great photographer. His candid portraits are positively stunning!

    I’m fascinated by your comparison of Steve McCurry and the Sartorialist. I had never thought of that but it’s true, the Sartorialist is like a fashionista version of Steve McCurry. Although Steve’s images are far superior from a photography standpoint, they both manage to capture those tiny little moments in time. In fact this is something I’ve been trying to do myself. Taking a tiny slice to time and showcasing the people in that moment:

    The hard part is being setup and present enough to not only see those moments occurring but having the ability to make the tools (your camera and its settings) go away… You need to get comfortable enough with your gear that it’s not even a factor in your mind.

    You have to be entirely present. This is quite difficult when you’re surrounded by chaos.

    You also make a very interesting point about shooting in bad conditions. I’ve noticed that the best time to shoot is when you feel like you shouldn’t! For instance there is a giant storm approaching and you feel like you need to retreat. That’s when you take a moment and shoot. Or if you’re freezing cold and the sun is setting that’s when you shoot a little more…

    Make bad weather your best friend.

    Just being out there is half the battle sometimes.

    Nice work here. I enjoyed your piece and I hope it refined how you think about your photography.

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