I was in the Presence of Photographic Greatness Today: Got to Meet Steve McCurry
Today was a dream day for me — I met my hero photographer, Steve McCurry!! What a guy, he’s traveled all over the world and made some of the best-known images to date: not only the Afghan girl, but the flower seller on Dal lake, the camels in front of burning oil wells, the Sri Lankan stilt fishermen, the boy running away on a narrow Jodhpur street…
Oh, what I wouldn’t do to be able to accompany Steve on a photo trip… Actually, he is offering to take guests on some tours, but I cannot afford these, and I actually don’t mean a commercial tour. I mean a trip where he himself is exploring and “working the place.” Somewhere far away from civilization where the ground is not littered with plastic bags and not everyone shouts Bakshish! Bakshish!
But back to our meeting. Steve was in Hamburg for the opening of his exhibition Overwhelmed by Life, which runs until the end of September. If you have a chance, go and see it, the images are stunning! They span about 30 years of Steve’s career, starting with a few black-and-whites from Afghanistan and ending up with his newest work from the Omo Valley.
During the press conference Steve talked a bit about our world, about photographic luck and how he got some of the images. My question about his favorite image he answered with a smile and pointed around the room. Each and every one, he said, but then he paused, showed to a less known image of a widow begging in front of a mosque and pointed out the great light and the dynamic that the shadows are creating. He answered many other questions in a calm, generous and unassuming voice, but with visible pride and joy in his eyes.
In a calm moment I asked Steve if I can photograph him, and he agreed. But how does one photograph a legend photographer?! Do I ask him to pose? Move him a bit this way, or that? How does he work with his subjects? But now it was my turn to shoot, so I asked him to stand next to my favorite image of his and looked through the viewfinder. “Bad light here…”, Steve said. Yes, bad and very little of it, but since the subject was right, I cranked up the ISO, double-checked my focus and gently released the shutter.