Steve McCurry. Portrait by Bruno Barbey

Steve McCurry ‘You need to be in the conversation’

'I try to show people what life is like,' says Magnum and Phaidon photographer in our insightful video clip

From the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to the attacks in New York on Sept 11, 2001, Magnum photographer and Phaidon author Steve McCurry, has captured many turning points in world history. But what drives him to witness such events? As he explains in this video clip, it all stems from a desire to change the world - for the better.

“I started travelling when I was 19,” McCurry explains, “and I decided that, whatever I do in my life, I want travel to be part of it.” Having decided on this at such an early age, he still faced the far larger problem of what exactly he should do, once he was travelling the globe. Fortunately, Steve discovered his talent for photography soon thereafter, and realised that, by combining this practice with his peripatetic lifestyle, he had a life-long vocation.


The Omo Valley, Ethiopia, by Steve McCurry
The Omo Valley, Ethiopia, by Steve McCurry

Much of McCurry’s better-known work is shot in remote locales such as Ethiopia’s Omo Valley or the Rajasthan, northern India; “historical places,” he says, “places that are in transition; their culture has lasted for a thousand years and its evaporating before our very eyes.” The impetus here is to “to document those places, because I think it’s important to have a memory of what we were, of what life was like on this planet.”


Mccurry Convo


Yet many of the photographer’s other well-known images were taken in places such as the Lebanon during its civil war, and in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. These pictures depict a frightening modern world, at equally important junctures.

What motivates McCurry to capture these moments? A want, he says, “to witness events for myself and to report on these events; to try and show people what life was like there, and perhaps how it could change for the better.”

An admirable aim. Watch our video above. When you've done that check out Steve's books in our store where a number are on special offer and read and watch more of our online McCurry content.