Steve McCurry, 'Aung San Suu Kyi and the flag' (1996), Rangoon, Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi by Steve McCurry

In 1996 the photographer travelled to Burma and came back with two of the most iconic photos of his career

Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi’s emotional return to Oxford University yesterday (she studied there in the 1960s) was a timely reminder that hope can triumph over adversity. In Aung San Suu Kyi's case, nobody captured that adversity better than Steve McCurry. In 1996 the Magnum photographer travelled to Burma where he was to produce two equally iconic but very different photographs of her. In one, in front of the flag she appears defiant, full of the fire that would carry her through long years of house arrest. In the solitude of her garden however, a different figure appears and a different story is told. His photograph of her in the garden of her house in Rangoon is loaded with potent symbolism. “Everywhere I go in the world, I see young and old, 
rich and poor, reading books,” McCurry said of the shot. “Whether readers are engaged in the sacred or the secular, 
they are, for a time, transported to another world.”


Steve McCurry, 'Aung San Suu Kyi in her garden' (1996)
Steve McCurry, 'Aung San Suu Kyi in her garden' (1996)


Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until November 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners. Her UK visit is the first time she’s been in Europe since 1988. During her incarceration she lost Michael Aris, her husband and Oxford professor, to cancer and her two children Alexander and Kim have grown up. Despite this, yesterday she showed the spirit that McCurry captured all those years ago.

Our lead image is one of the many fantastic photos in McCurry’s The Unguarded Moment, a collection of photographs reflecting the daily rituals and customs of people around the world. It brings together the photographer’s most beautiful photos from the last 30 years. We also have signed editions of In The Shadow Of Mountains, a collection of the photographer’s work in Afghanistan. Both are classic McCurry.