Steve McCurry recalls the shells falling in Kashmir
The Magnum photographer remembers his time in the region where tensions are fast rising again
Steve McCurry knows how to put people at ease. His book Steve McCurry: The Unguarded Moment features subjects at their least self-conscious, enabling McCurry to get the most revealing of photographs. Unfortunately, he can only work one person at time. This is a pity, as McCurry is a regular visitor to India and Paikistan, and is familiar with the wild, beautiful, disputed region of Kashmir, which lies between these two Asian rivals, and is currently the site of increasing tensions.
“In Kashmir, I felt there was always tension,” the Magnum photographer told the Indian news agency IANS. “The time I felt my life was in danger was one time in a taxi from Srinagar to Kargil. There was a convoy at seven or eight at night on a very precarious mountain road in the Himalayas. We were told to switch off our lights, because there was shelling from the Pakistani side. It was a very alarming experience.”
Of course, McCurry made his name covering the Russian war in Afghanistan, and has photographed in plenty of other conflict zones, but he still hasn’t grown inured to the life-threatening effects of being under fire.
“I don’t think you ever get used to it, or get comfortable with it,” he explained. “The way you deal with it may change, but I don’t think you ever become desensitised. It’s never routine. If you’re telling a story or reporting a situation you have to manage the work you send in and manage it in the best way possible. But no, I don’t think you ever get used to it. Violence is always horrific.”