Untold author and legendary photographer Steve McCurry
Untold author and legendary photographer Steve McCurry

Meet Steve McCurry at Peter Fetterman Gallery

Steve is the Mick Jagger of the photography world - Fetterman tells Phaidon on eve of his Santa Monica talk

Steve McCurry’s humanist photography is the subject of a great show at Peter Fetterman gallery at the moment and the Magnum photographer himself will be giving a talk and signing copies of his new Phaidon book Untold The Stories Behind the Photographs tomorrow (Tuesday September 3). 

London-born Santa Monica-based gallerist Peter Fetterman has been involved with photography for 30 years and his gallery on Michigan Avenue has one of the largest inventories of 20th century photography in the USA. Fetterman is showing the McCurry prints (some of which are previously unseen) alongside a show by another Phaidon photographer, Sebastiao Salgado. 

 

Dust Storm, Rajasthan, India, 1983 - Steve McCurry
Dust Storm, Rajasthan, India, 1983 - Steve McCurry

“Steve and Sebastiao are kind of like the Mick Jagger of the photography world,” he tells us. “Every photographer wants to be them. They’re the two greatest living photojournalists. I’ve worked with them both for 25 years they have a lot in common. To do the kind of work they do you have to be focused, organised dedicated – maniacal! 

“Many photographers have been to the places Steve’s been but they don’t immerse themselves in the culture to the degree he does," Fetterman says. "A lot of them go for the day, stay in a fancy hotel and leave the next day. Steve likes to live with the people he’s photographing and understand the story. You’ve got to have an incredible focus to live like that and deliver that work constantly - image after image.”

Fetterman says he fell in love with colour photography through Steve McCurry’s work. “In a way he turned me on to colour. I’m a traditional black and white guy but I fell in love with colour photography through him. Dust Storm and Mother And Child At Car Window are truly extraordinary images.”

 

Pages from McCurry's 'Monsoon' journal, 1983 from the book Untold
Pages from McCurry's 'Monsoon' journal, 1983 from the book Untold

After working with Steve for 20 years Peter has a lot of insight into the Magnum photographer’s character which explains how he gets some of his most iconic images (many of which are on show in Phaidon’s new book Untold The Stories Behind The Photographs (which you can read about here). 

“I get inspired by his passion and his humility. He’s humble and not full of himself. He’s not macho in these extreme situations but sensitive, anonymous and quiet. The nuts and bolts effort of running a gallery can be intense so you need to be around curiosity, intelligence and empathy - humanist photography. This is reflected in the kind of people who are attracted to and buy his work. I think his fans are attracted to his humanity and the universality of the images like the great humanist photographers such as Dorothea Lange - they stop people in their tracks and they humble people.

 

Mother and Child at Car Window, Bombay, India, 1993, by Steve McCurry
Mother and Child at Car Window, Bombay, India, 1993, by Steve McCurry

“The people who collect his work tend not to be show offs. Like him they tend to be curious and sensitive we can sensitively dialogue with them on a human level.  They’re not people who buy art with their ears by which I mean because someone has told them they should.”

"Signed Steve McCurry photographs of any of the images in his books are available from the gallery. Prices begin from $3,500 upwards". Learn more about prints and about the show at peterfetterman.com and check out our online content and all our books on Steve McCurry as well as our great Sebastiao Salgado book here.