Steve McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass

Legendary photographer's advice for happy snappers and shutterbugs: #1: 'Don't forget to say hello'

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If you want the best advice you go to an expert. Steve McCurry's photojournalism career began with his coverage of the Soviet war in Afghanistan where he smuggled his film out of the country by sewing it into his clothes. The Magnum photographer's images were among the first of the conflict and won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad. These days his portraits, street scenes and snatched photographic moments hang in private collections and public institutions. 

Steve McCurry, Caretaker at the Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia (1999) Steve McCurry, Caretaker at the Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia (1999)

We’ve always admired and championed Steve’s work here at Phaidon and recently published the book Iconic Photographs with him. McCurry is well known for befriending his subjects to get the best out of them. He recently told Phaidon how he spent hours gaining the interest and trust of Sharbat Gula, the subject of his most famous photo, Afghan Girl

So we decided to sit him down and pick his brains on how to get a great picture. As we expected, the conversation was both lively and revelatory. We’ve edited it into a 10-lesson-strong masterclass (each one around the minute mark) which we think will give some insight into the way a master photographer like Steve works and offer some good advice to happy snapper and amateur shutterbug alike. 

Steve McCurry, Baby in a bicycle sling at Banteay Srei, Angkor, Cambodia (2000) Steve McCurry, Baby in a bicycle sling at Banteay Srei, Angkor, Cambodia (2000)

Over the 10 videos, Steve will give a grounding in the basics of what makes a great photo, how to seize the moment and capture one, how to pick the best vantage point and what to do when things go wrong. We’ll be rolling them out over the next couple of weeks. 

In today’s masterclass, ‘Don’t Forget To Say Hello’ McCurry advises on the best ways to get up close to strangers when shooting in pubic or maybe in a foreign country where you may feel like an outsider. Hope you enjoy it. 

For a closer behind the photographs follow the link to Revealed - the true story behind the Afghan 'Mona Lisa'

For more from Steve McCurry read his memories of 9/11 and follow the link to buy Steve McCurry’s Iconic Photographs

Watch the remainder of the series here:

McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #2
McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #3
McCurry’s One-Minute Masterclass #4
McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #5
McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #6 
McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #7
McCurry's One-Monute Masterclass #8
McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #9
McCurry's One-Minute Masterclass #10

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Steve McCurry, Pilgrim at a stupa, Amdo, Tibet (2001) Steve McCurry, Pilgrim at a stupa, Amdo, Tibet (2001)


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