Author Archives: Steve McCurry

Sidewalk Vignettes


 “You could start at a path leading nowhere more fantastic than from your own
front steps to the sidewalk, and from there you could go… well, anywhere at all.”
– Stephen King



The first sidewalks made their appearance around 2000 BCE in what is now Turkey, 
and there is evidence that both the ancient Greeks and Romans incorporated
roadside pedestrian footpaths in their cities.
– Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

USA-10473Los Angeles, California, USA

INDIA-10727NF2Mumbai, India

FRANCE-10213NF2Paris, France

The sidewalk as an integral feature of urban life
can be attributed largely to the career of Georges-Eugene Haussmann,
the man behind the massive rebuilding of Paris in the 1850’s and 1860’s.
– Divya Subramanian


ITALY-10738NF2Umbria, Italy

02385_16, Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, USA, 07/1991, USA-11529. People paint mural on a wall outside. retouched_Ekaterina Savtsova 01/13/2016Los Angeles, California, United States

COLOMBIA-10001La Esperanza, Colombia

IRELAND-10001NF2Dublin, Ireland


“A sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously …
Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on,
by watching street activity.”  
–  Jane Jacobs

_DSC2474New York City, New York, USA

  “The screech and mechanical uproar of the
big city turns the citified head,  
fills citified ears –
as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries,
or as the voices and songs of his loved ones once filled his

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On Portraiture


 What could be more simple and more complex,
more obvious and more profound than a portrait.
– Charles Baudelaire 

USA-10023Los Angeles, California, USA

The countenance is the portrait of the soul, and
the eyes mark its intentions.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero

_DSC8828, Havana, Cuba, 07/17/2015, CUBA-10303. Portrait of old woman looking out of window. retouched_Ekaterina Savtsova 07/29/2015 SENDING TO MAGNUMCuba


The most difficult thing for me is a portrait.
You have to try to put your camera between the
skin of a person and his shirt.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson

AFGHN-12691NF2Kabul, Afghanistan

Portraits reveal a desire for human connection;
a desire so strong that people who know they will never see me again

open themselves to the camera,  all in the hope that at the other end
someone will be watching,

someone who will laugh or suffer with them.


A good portrait is one that says something about the person. 
We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so the
good portrait should also say something about the human condition.



A true portrait should today and a hundred years from today, be the
testimony of how this person looked and
what kind of human being he was.

 Philippe Halsman

Farmer, Baluchistan, Pakistan, 1980 MAX PRINT SIZE: 40X60 IG: Moments before I took the photograph, this farmer was working his field, separating the chaff from the wheat. The detail in the strands of the fabric in his turban and the similar pattern in his vest caught my eye. The red jewel in his gold ring becomes a delicate focal point. There is a formal unity to this farmer's attire that caught McCurry's eye. In the first instance there is a parallel between the muted colours of the man's turban, shirt and vest and the surrounding landscape. On closer inspection we see how the complex folds of the turban find a subtle echo in the pattern on his vest. Finally, the red jewel in his ring serves as a delicate focal point for the whole image. "Moments before the photograph was made, this farmer was working his field, separating the chaff from the wheat. The detail in the strands of finely wrapped fabric in his turban and the sympathetic pattern in his vest caught McCurry's eye, a compelling lyric within a narrow band of muted color. As the farmer leaned upon his staff, McCurry noticed its corresponding texture and hue, and then when he grasped the staff and revealed the bright punctuation of his ring, McCurry knew he had a photograph. Now, years later, McCurry reflects that the photograph can no longer be made in Pakistan. 'It is very different today', he notes." - Phaidon 55 Magnum Photos, NN11433290, MCS1980005K10002 Nomadic pastorialist in the arid mountainous southwest province of Pakistan which borders Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the south. Steve McCurry: Photographs of Asia. Boca Raton Museum of Art. 2004, 21. Portraits_Book South Southeast_Book Steve Mccurry_Book Looking East_Book Iconic_Book PORTRAITS_Book final print_Milan final print_Birmingham final print_HERMITAGE final print_Zurich Stern Portfolio_Book Fine Art Print final print_Ankara retouched_Sonny Fabbri 3/27/2015Pakistan

Photography and the genre of portraiture have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship.

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Morning Glory

There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free.
Don’t miss so many of them.
–  Jo Walton

q 046Kashmir

INDIA-10838Agra, India

DSC_1841, Myanmar/Burma, 2013, BURMA-10685. A woman reads a newspaper in her shop. Coffee_Book retouched_Sonny Fabbri 09/09/2015Burma

How sweet the morning air is!
See how that one little cloud floats like a
pink feather from some gigantic flamingo.
How small we feel with our petty ambitions and strivings in the
presence of the great elemental forces of nature.
– Arthur Conan Doyle

01353_07, Morocco; 03/1988. MOROCCO-10159NF. A view of a desert landscape in Morocco. retouched_Ekaterina Savtsova 12/11/2015Morocco

PAKISTAN-10032Breakfast tea being passed between cars on the railway in Pakistan

INDIA-10204Old Delhi Train Station, India 

What breaks in daybreak? Is it the night?
Is it the sun, cracked in two by the horizon
like an egg, spilling out light?

 – Margaret Atwood

AFGHN-10182Afghan man makes his early morning rounds

I’ll tell you how the sun rose,
A ribbon at a time.

The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
 The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
That must have been the sun …
– Emily Dickinson

AFGHN-12813nsBamiyan Province, Afghanistan

Dawn was breaking over the horizon, shell pink and faintly gold…
–  J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

INDIA-10845Girl cooking morning meal, Uttarakhand, India

INDIA-10907Varanasi, India


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The Spirit of Afghanistan

“A landscape might be denuded, a human settlement abandoned or lost,
but always, just beneath the ground lies history of preposterous grandeur. . .
They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind,
irrepressibly optimistic and proud.
– The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer



“I have the impression that (Afghan) children are
much more excited about going to school than
children in other countries are.  
They think of it as a special privilege.
Going to school, being with other children,
getting books and pencils – all of that is like a dream for them.”  
– Dr. Cheryl Benard, Veiled Courage




Near the Afghan/Pakistan border

AFGHN-12883Near the Afghan/Pakistan border


Mazar i Sharif

If literacy rates were measured by a nation’s proverbs and poetry,
Afghanistan would be one of the most literate countries on earth.
These two forms of the oral
tradition have been embraced for
centuries and reveal the spirit and soul
of the Afghan people.

Jabal os Saraj

AFGHN-12074NFLake at Band i Amir


In Afghanistan, the tradition of poetry writing and recitation dates back a thousand years.
To lend credibility to an argument, the preface,
“The poet says…”   denies the listener the opportunity to

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River of Life

For more than 2000 years, travelers have walked, ridden,
prayed, traded, invaded, escaped, fought, and
died along the 1,500 miles of the Grand Trunk Road
which stretches from Kolkata to Kabul.

Tram, Calcutta, India, 1996; A Tram, Calcutta, India, 1996 MCS1996002 K010 Magnum Photos, NYC5923 Kolkata, India

This ribbon of humanity stretching Northwest from Kolkata,
the city of culture and joy, to Kabul, the city of conflict,
has been moving merchants, buyers, conquerors, refugees,
prophets, nomads and pilgrims through what is today
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

01896_11, 508665, India 50 Years After, Calcutta, India, 10/1996, INDIA-10379. An Indian woman prepares a meal under a shampoo advertisement. India_Book retouched_Sonny Fabbri 02/03/2015

Kolkata, India

Here are some pictures of people and places I have taken along the route of the
Grand Trunk Road during the past thirty years.

Street scene, Calcutta, India, 1996
Kolkata, India

Howrah Station, Calcutta, India, 1983 As the midday sun streams through the skylights, passengers wait for their trains. Like a movie frozen in time, one can almost hear the noise of people talking, walking, coughing and laughing, and the clatter and screech of the trains as they arrive and depart, the sounds echoing beneath the high ceilings. Howrah Station, Calcutta, India, 1983. Pg. 27, Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs Phaidon, Iconic Images, final book_iconic The Imperial Way_Book Untold_book The Great Railway Bazaar_Book
Howrah Station, Kolkata

Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, 2000, INDIA-10299. MAX PRINT SIZE: 40x60 Candles are a form of offering at the Tibetan Prayer Festival, during which thousands are lit under the Bodi tree. India's Mahabodhi Temple is steps from where Siddhartha achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha. His Four Noble Truths: Life entails suffering; suffering arises from attachment to desires; suffering stops when attachment does; to transcend life's pain, follow the Eightfold Path. A key practice is meditation. Magnum Photos, NYC31844, MCS2000009K010 Garfinkel, Perry. (December 2005). Buddha Rising. National Geographic. Vol.208, No.6, 95 Tibetan prayer festival at the site of the Bodhi tree, where Budda achieved enlightenment, Bodh Gaya, India, 2000. Pg 218, Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs. The Path to Buddha_Book Untold_book final print_UrbanArt'12 final print_milan Fine Art Print Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 05/21/2014
Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

 Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism all developed along the route,
and Muslims proclaimed their beliefs on their journeys along the road.

Man immersed in American consumerism, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, 2000. Magnum Photos, NYC31911, MCS2003002 K019
Bihar, India

Woman in Alleyway Varanasi. INDIA-10906, Varanasi, India, 2010
Varanasi, India

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India, 1999, INDIA-10223NF. A man takes a drink of water from the river. final print_milan final print_Sao Paulo India_Book retouched_Sonny Fabbri 02/26/2015
Agra, India

“Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers,
barbers and bunnias, pilgrims – and potters – all the world going and coming.
It is to me as a river from which I am
withdrawn like a log after a flood.
And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle.
Such a river of life as no where else exists in the world.”
– Rudyard Kipling, Kim

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Deep South

Paul Theroux’s book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads,
published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is now available
Photographs by Steve McCurry

DSC_4192, Deep South, Warren, Arkansas, USA, 09/2013, USA-10914. Pastime theatre. Final Deep South selection for Smithsonian. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 11/25/2014

Warren, Arkansas

Paul Theroux and I have been working together since 1984.
We did a book together on Indian railways;
we worked on an assignment together in Costa Rica, and  

I visited him at his home in Hawaii.
Deep South is our second book collaboration.

DSC_2357, Elberton, Georgia, Deep South, USA, 09/2013, USA-10910. Abandoned garden. Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 4/15/2013
Elberton, Georgia

Paul has a keen sense of humor and a sharp wit.
He’s able to cut through the nonsense to find the truth.

DSC_4121; Deep South; Allendale, South Carolina, USA; 04/2014, USA-10998NF2. An old interstate sign. final_Smithsonian Web Article Retouched by Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Allendale, South Carolina

DSC_6123, Deep South, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA, 04/2014, USA-11044. A statue beside a house. CHECK IMAGE USAGE final_Smithsonian Magazine retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Natchez, Mississippi
This  house served as Union headquarters during the Civil War

DSC_5190, Deep South, Philadelphia, Mississippi, USA, 04/2014, USA-11024NF. Street view of Philadelphia water tower. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Philadelphia, Mississippi

DSC_6664, Deep South, Arcola, Mississippi, United States, 04/2014, DSC_6753, DSC_6803, DSC_6804, USA-11060. A woman folds the American flag. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Ruby Johnson, Postermaster
Arcola, Mississippi

“…the vitality of the South lies in the self-awareness of its deeply rooted people.
What made the South an enlightenment for a traveler like me, more interested in conversation than sightseeing,
was the heart and soul of its family narratives — its human wealth.”
– quoted by Bret Lott, Boston Globe

_DSC9480, Deep South, Alabama, USA, 2013, USA-10795. Barber Eugene Lyles relaxes in his shop. Final Deep South selection for Smithsonian_web Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 07/31/2015
Reverend Eugene Lyles
Greensboro, Alabama

“Ones born today don’t know how it was.”
– Rev. Lyles

DSC_3178, Deep South, USA, 09/2013, USA-10972. Reverend Lyles’s annotated Bible, on the desk in his barbershop retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015 Deep South_Book_HMH
Reverend Lyles’s annotated Bible on the desk in his barbershop.
 Greensboro, Alabama

“A church in the South is the beating

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