If only words could capture the lives of people in the developing world as well as Steve McCurry's photography does. A picture is worth a thousand clichés about the human condition. His iconic 1985 Afghan Girl, of twelve year old Sharbat Gula for National Geographic, is one such image.
We were lucky enough to see an exhibition of Steve McCurry's photographs at the Centro Cultural ;Borges in Buenos Aires' Galerias Pacifico recently. McCurry has worked in many war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. India, Pakistan and Cambodia are also key locations for this retrospective. Most of the photos were taken in the third world but overwhelmingly concern the everyday lives and relationships of people, not military conflict.
The images are usually highly constructed, often with his emblematic focus on the eyes rather than the action. They reveal a trust and connection between photographer and subject that is sometimes missing in more spontaneous techniques.
The photography is not just beautifully executed. His portraits are minimalist, distilling the essence of the moment on an uncomplicated, uncluttered canvas: a man works at his peddle sewing machine; a camel-framed scene as a old man instructs a child with a younger boy watching; women in burquas shop for sports shoes; a young boy runs past a wall covered in red hands.
His work exposes the hollowness and falsehood of the oft-heard claim that life is cheap in Asia. We see dignity, triumph and joy in their difficult struggles.
If you get a chance to see one of Steve McCurry's exhibitions, don't miss it. Otherwise visit his online galleries.