The name “Sharbat Gula” does not ring a bell with a lot of people. When shown her photo, most of them will instantly recognize her as “The Afghan girl from National Geographic”. Sharba Gula was photographed in 1984 in a refugee camp near Peshawar in Pakistan. Photographer Steve McCurry instantly became world famous with this portrait, that is not only a symbol for the Afghan War (1979-1989), but for refugees all over the world. There is so much more about his work though
Steve McCurry is mostly known for this sticking photograph, but his work is about so much more. His love for Asia is very much present in his work, as well as the interaction with the people he portrays.
McCurry is always looking for “the unguarded moment”. Although a lot of his work consists of “posed portraits”, the emotion in it is real. His work is about real people with real stories. Steve McCurry has traveled around the world, but Asia has always been one of his favourite places. He has captured several historical events, mostly wars and conflicts that have been going on in the middle east, Cambodia, The Philippines and Afghanistan.
Although most of his work is created in conflict areas in the world, there is often a sense of happiness and joy, yet it is mixed with the contrast of the lives of the people he protrays. Most of his photos paint a clear image of the lives of people in third world countries. But no matter how different their lives are, there are stricking similarities between their world and ours.
Colourful people who live a colourful life. They might celebrate different holidays, believe in a different god, but they still are a lot like you and me: They want to be happy and they want the best for their family.
Steve McCurry has a very active Tumblr blog, where he posts photos on a regular base, usually withing a certain topic, like children playing, people reading or praying.
There are also several documentaries starring Steve McCurry, where he discusses his work. One of the most interesting ones is this one:
In this short documentary, Steve McCurry is followed as he shoots the very last film roll of Kodachrome. Kodachrome was his favourite choice of film and National Geographic thought this to be a perfect opportunity to see what happens to the last roll of film. It gives an insight to the way Steve McCurry works, the things he is looking for in a photograph and what it is that makes him such an amazing photographer.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading about Steve McCurry and his other work, besides The Afghan Girl. If you do love the photo a lot (let’s face it, who doesn’t?) there is also a documentary called “The search for the Afghan Girl, in which Steve and a team or researches try to find Sharbat Gula. This is a very beautiful documentary as well and definitely worth the watch!