What to buy in October 2009

October 15, 2009

Steve McCurry (by Anthony Bannon)
steve mccurry
Steve McCurry is one of the photographers that I was always a bit ambivalent about. Maybe that’s because much of his fame was so much based on this one famous image of an “Afghan Girl” (1979) that he had become much of an icon of mainstream travel photography. Every guy with a big SLR + long lens seemed to try copying that style, the colors etc.

However, when I walked into Kinokuniya Book Store (Singapore) yesterday, I had a look at the Phaidon Edition of Steve McCurry. Phaidon has been publishing this great series of books, introducing icons of photography like Mary Ellen Mark, Andre Kertesz, and others. It turns out that Steve McCurry is an absolute master of color photography, and a great portrait photographer, too. Of course I knew that before, but looking at these fantastic color portraits taken in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I realized that McCurry was at the time able to record South-/Central Asian life in a way which is hardly possible anymore. At the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 the country was already wrecked by civil war. However, the general attitude towards the West (i.e America) was not yet as negative as it is today. As McCurry points out himself: Portrait images like he took in Pakistan back then would hardly be possible anymore. Too much china has been broken, I guess.

This edition only gives a glimpse into this famous MAGNUM photographer’s work. The great thing about this series is also, that every image comes with a comment about how it was taken (not technical!). That makes it a pleasure to read. It’s also printed in high quality (Phaidon is a fantastic publishing house!) for a very low price. You can either buy it at your local art book store, or order it here! Check it out, it’s worth it!

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