Steve McCurry’s monsoon photos from India & beyond – Devastatingly real

Steve McCurry - Monsoon 2
Steve McCurry

About Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is no stranger to success having built a name for himself as one of the world’s most respected photographers. He has won numerous international awards and acclaim for his consistent and impactful repertoire and has sold books in the millions across the world. In particular, some of his most talked-about works are his Monsoon photographs.

What inspired him to become a photographer

McCurry aspired to be a successful photographer at a very early age after he saw a photo story in Life Magazine back in 1961 featuring the Indian Monsoon as the subject. The photos had been taken by another famous photographer of that time known as Brian Brake; McCurry was only 11 years old then. These images would stay with the photographer guiding him later on in his career path. It was not until 1983 that McCurry would venture off to Sri Lanka to photograph the Monsoon himself.

National Geographic & first monsoon photos

When he set out for the very first time, McCurry was working for National Geographic. His first pictures of the monsoon helped establish him as one of the photographers to watch out for. Of course, as mentioned earlier, the photographers that came before him, such as Brake, often focused on the meteorological event, so he had to find a unique way to set himself apart as the new player.

Steve McCurry photographing in Nepal, 1983
Steve McCurry photographing in Nepal, 1983

Steve McCurry’s Monsoon photos

McCurry, therefore not only captured images of the monsoon, but he was also cautious about paying attention to other more complex details of how the monsoon affects the people who experience it and how those people choose to cope with the often destructive weather phenomenon. For six months, McCurry followed the path of the monsoon from Southeast Asia all the way to Northern Australia.

Steve McCurry's Monsoon journal
Steve McCurry’s monsoon journal

More than 80 visits to Asia

The result was a collection of photographs that were not only visually appealing but also devastatingly real. Since his first ever Monsoon series, McCurry has made more than 80 more visits to Asia. The collection of images from his 30 years as a photojournalist features different subjects, including people and even steam engines making their way past the Taj Mahal.

Steve McCurry - Portrait - Monsoon in India
Steve McCurry’s portrait during monsoon in India

The iconic tailor photograph

Video: Steve McCurry unpacks Tailor in Monsoon, Porbandar, India

1 min
Steve McCurry - Tailor carrying his sewing machine, Porbandar, India, 1983
Steve McCurry – Tailor carrying his sewing machine, Porbandar, India, 1983

Video: Steve McCurry & The Last Roll of Kodachrome

30 min 55 sec

Controversy & manipulation

Although no one can take McCurry’s success away, some of his most famous shots, including some from his book India by Rail, which appeared in the National Geographic back in 1984, have recently been criticized for being staged and manipulated1 by photo editing tools even though they were presented as documentary reportage.

While photo manipulation and editing are acceptable practices in commercial photography, it is not allowed in photojournalism as the industry standard dictates that documentary photos reflect real-life situations.

Steve McCurry - Taj Mahal and train, Agra, 1983
Steve McCurry – Taj Mahal and train, Agra, 1983

Photos

Bangladesh
Steve McCurry - Family on train tracks during monsoon, 1983, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Steve McCurry – Family on train tracks during monsoon, 1983, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Steve McCurry - Bangladesh
Steve McCurry – Bangladesh
Steve McCurry - Sylhet, Bangladesh
Steve McCurry – Sylhet, Bangladesh
Burma/Myanmar
Steve McCurry - Football, Sittwe, Burma, 1994
Steve McCurry – Football in Sittwe, Burma, 1994
Steve McCurry - Procession of Nuns, Rangoon, Burma, 1994
Steve McCurry – Procession of Nuns, Rangoon, Burma, 1994
Steve McCurry - Burma
Steve McCurry – Burma
Cambodia
Steve McCurry - Cambodia, Angkor, Angkor Wat, 1999
Steve McCurry – Cambodia, Angkor, Angkor Wat, 1999
India
Steve McCurry - Monsoon in Chandani Chowk, Old Delhi, 1983
Steve McCurry – Monsoon in Chandani Chowk, Old Delhi, India, 1983
Steve McCurry - Porbandar, India, 1983
Steve McCurry – Porbandar, India, 1983
Steve McCurry - Rajasthan, India
Steve McCurry – Rajasthan, India
Steve McCurry - Varanasi, India
Steve McCurry – Varanasi, India
Steve McCurry - Two men crossing a swollen river after the bridge was washed away, Goa, India
Steve McCurry – Two men crossing a swollen river after the bridge was washed away, Goa, India
Steve McCurry - Girl in Monsoon, Bombay, India, 1995
Steve McCurry – Girl in Monsoon, Bombay, India, 1995
Steve McCurry - Monsoon 1
Steve McCurry – Worli, India
Steve McCurry - Monsoon 3
Steve McCurry – Young girl in monsoon rain, Gujarat, India, 2003
Steve McCurry - Monsoon 4
Steve McCurry
Indonesia
Steve McCurry - Indonesia. Java. 1983, Girls huddle under a rice basket to escape the rain
Steve McCurry – Girls huddle under a rice basket to escape the rain, Java, Indonesia, 1983
Steve McCurry - Kids under a caping, Indonesia from Right as Rain
Steve McCurry – Kids under a caping, Indonesia
Nepal
Steve McCurry - Banana leaf serves as an umbrella for a boy herding, 1984
Steve McCurry – Banana leaf serves as an umbrella for a boy herding, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1984

All images by Steve McCurry unless otherwise noted.

 

More

More by Steve McCurry

Related readings
  1. https://petapixel.com/2016/06/07/eyes-afghan-girl-critical-take-steve-mccurry-scandal/

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