Rajasthan, India

For months there is no rain, and then there is too much.
Half the world’s people survive at the whim of the monsoon.

INDIA-10926Bihar, India

I was eleven years old when I saw a photo essay on the monsoon in India in Life Magazine by Brian Brake, the New Zealand-born Magnum photographer. His work established his reputation as a master color photo essayist. Twenty years later, I proposed a story to National Geographic to photograph the monsoon.

Worli, India

Bombay/Mumbai, India

INDIA-10004NFPorbandar, India


Monsoon History
by Shirley Geok-lin Lim
The air is wet, soaks
into mattresses, and curls
In apparitions of smoke,
Like fat white slugs furled
Among the timber
Or silver fish tunnelling
The damp linen covers
Of schoolbooks, or walking
Quietly like centipedes,
The air walking everywhere
On its hundred feet
Is filled with the glare
Of tropical water.
Again we are taken over
By clouds and rolling darkness.
Small snails appear
Clashing their timid horns
Among the morning glory


Porbandar, India

The rains fall on one horn of the buffalo, and not on the other.
-Indian Proverb

Rajasthan, India

Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
by Mary Oliver 
Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!


Bojonegoro, Java, Indonesia


Bagmati River, Kathmandu, Nepal

During the year I spent following the monsoon in a dozen countries, I learned to see it as a critically important event, 
and not the disaster it had first seemed to my Western eyes. 


Bagmati River, Kathmandu, Nepal

Rain is grace;
Rain is the sky descending to the earth …
– John Updike





Sulawesi, Indonesia

Farmers experience the monsoon as an almost religious experience as they watch their fields come back to life after being parched for half the year. 


Varanasi, India

For half the world’s people, good monsoons, those rain-bearing winds of
Asia and the Subcontinent, 
 mean life and prosperity.
Poor ones are marked by famine and death.



Porbandar, India


Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Only He shakes the heavens and from its treasures takes out the winds. 
He joins the waters and the clouds and produces the rain.
He does all those things. 

– Michael Servetus (1511-1553)
Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer


Kathmandu Valley, Nepal


Rajasthan, India

About the author

Steve McCurry has been a one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India. Traveling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera.

It was after several months of travel that he found himself crossing the border into Pakistan. There, he met a group of refugees from Afghanistan, who smuggled him across the border into their country, just as the Russian Invasion was closing the country to all western journalists. Emerging in traditional dress, with full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.

Since then, McCurry has gone on to create stunning images over six continents and countless countries. His work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike - yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl such a powerful image.

McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, National Press Photographers Award, and an unprecedented four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest, to name a few.