How did I get to know that Steve McCurry was coming to London to sign copies of his new book on Afghanistan I cannot remember. What I can remember is how eager I was to meet the Magnum master of travel and portrait photography. So without hesitating I boarded a red double decker Oxford Tube and went to London. Needless to say that I got stuck in a huge traffic jam, a very symptomatic sign of our times, clearly indicating the need for alternative, ‘bigger picture’ solutions possibly involving rapid transit systems and high speed rail and was almost late. I knew that it would be much better to have a more meaningful conversation with a book by McCurry in one’s hands, but where to find one? Chelsea doesn’t have a huge number of bookshops, so I headed to Waterstones in King’s Road I knew well. How odd, said the shop assistant, you are the second customer today who asks for Steve McCurry’s albums, this is the very last one we have. This is my day, I thought, and paid the required amount proudly holding one of my favorite books by McCurry published by Phaidon Press. Turning around the corner I noticed a large queue starting at the door of the Taschen bookshop, where the meeting was going to take place. ‘You may enter now’ said a pretty young lady at the entrance. Such chances are extremely rare, and this brief meeting with a celebrated Magnum photographer allowed me to reconnect with a rich tradition of fine art documentary and travel photography, reconfirm my interest in colour, explore Steve McCurry’s photography techniques that can be seen in ‘Magnum Contact Sheets‘, explore the work of other photographers who joined Magnum, the agency celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, draw some plans to do more photography in the countries of Asia, so different, so hospitable, so full of atmosphere and colour. This chance meeting sent me on the path of discovery. I did some research on the Nikon FM cameras McCurry used, the special signature of the Ektachrome colour film he favoured on his travels and also found some new books to examine for a more in-depth insight into McCurry’s work, including ‘Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs by Steve McCurry‘. The ‘Iconic Photographs’ for me has a new personal meaning and a story associated with it and will be a very special part of my collection bearing an inscription from the celebrated author of the ‘Afghan Girl’. The book is still available in some shops but I would not be surprised if it went out of print very soon. Find your copy of Steve McCurry (2012) Iconic Photographs before it is too late!
Steve McCurry (2012) The Iconic Photographs, Phaidon
Steve McCurry (2013) Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs by Steve McCurry, Phaidon
Kristen Lubben (2017) Magnum Contact Sheets, Thames and Hudson