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About the Author

Kevin Rennie
Citizen journalist, Teacher (retired),Volunteer (Melbourne, Australia)

I am a retired secondary teacher and unionist. I have been an Australian Labor Party member since 1972. After teaching in Victorian schools from 1975, I spent 8 years teaching in the Northern Territory: 4 in Katherine, followed by 4 in Maningrida, an aboriginal community in Arnhem Land. Returned in June 2008 to Melbourne to live after 15 months in Broome. Now live near Red Bluff which overlooks Half Moon Bay on Port Phillip Bay's eastern side. I am a Global Voices author.


Steve McCurry: Eyes of the World

Published 10th May 2010 - 8 comments - 7845 views -

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.

Afghan Girl

(Source: Wikipedia)

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.

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  • Clare Herbert on 10th May 2010:

    That is probably one of the most harrowing images I have ever seen. Thanks for posting it.

  • Hanna Clarys on 10th May 2010:

    Her eyes tell everything. Do you know there is another photograph made from this girl, but 17 years later? You can see it here:

    The difference is huge, but the eyes are as striking as before.

  • Kevin Rennie on 10th May 2010:

    Thanks, Clare & Hanna.

    We followed her story at the time which is why it was so exciting to stumble upon the exhibition. Her amazing discovery is better left to others. The enigma of her eyes still eludes description.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 11th May 2010:

    Thanks for this Kevin. Photos tell so much.

  • Andrea Arzaba on 11th May 2010:

    Kevin! Great post….ah this picture is very emblematic!

    I also recommend you the Nat Geo documentary about how they found this girl again, years later after they took the first picture! In this documentary they take the second picture, the one Hanna talked about on her previous comment smile

  • Kevin Rennie on 11th May 2010:


    Thanks! Many of the images in Steve McCurry’s online portrait gallery have a similar impact.

  • Aija Vanaga on 12th May 2010:

    Great pictures that makes you think.

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