If anyone asked me who inspired me on my way to photography I would definitely name Steve McCurry. To me he is the kind of photographer that never gets old, never bores and always leaves some hope for better.
Of course he is not only one great to me. Eugene Smith, Elliott Erwitt, Josef Koudelka are the top as well. They represent time, when documentary photography was truly a part of journalism, little connected to money (regards to Eugene Smith), and was not the way to depress you. Since then, the documentary photography has become the synonym of famine in Africa and war in the Middle East.
I only can guess that the fashion for the war (that is the depressing) photography was set by very Magnum (which Steve is a member of, by the way). I don’t pick on war photographers, no. James Nachtwey is doing really great job for us, by grabbing us by the hair and rubbing our noses in the dirt. But there’s so many “war photographers” nowadays, who treat this field as an easy way to earn money. Yes, you didn’t mishear it! The war photography is easy, in terms that it doesn’t require much photography skills to be impact. Just enough to click the shutter in front of the burning tank and you got it! Of course it’s dangerous, no doubt, but again, it’s only dilemma between how dangerous it is and how much money you earn by it. Photography is the last of all thoughts.
Steve, at the same time, is may be the last dinosaur making people happy by taking pictures. Hopefully he does it intentionally. He shows the details of the world which we often don’t see, but which happen around us. Doesn’t matter if a photograph shows some cameleer in Afghanistan and you live in Europe. Different things are often made of the same matter.
So, I dedicated my first post to Steve not because I think he is the perfect photographer. He definitely is, though I saw many of his weak works too. I did it, because by looking at Steve’s photos I once realized: there’s so much interesting just around the corner. You don’t need to go to a battlefield in Iraq to take intriguing photos. No. It’s just enough to peer round the corner. Just be aware that will take more efforts to see in this case, since many things are not superficial.
Below I post one of the photos by Steve, just to show how simple and how deep things are sometimes around us.
© Steve McCurry, Yemen, 1997