If there is one photographer who’s managed to inspire just everyone, its Steve McCurry. His photographs have the simplicity of a child and the complexity of the old and wise, perfection like no other. When I first came upon his work, the one word which is able to describe him best is “color”. His work is so rich that it makes anything else look pain vague and washed out. But that is only the start. As you’d explore him more and more, his courage, will and humility is evident in his images.
Recently I got my hands on two of his books, one which I bought for myself and another for a friend who is a film maker (bless Landmark, the neighborhood bookstore for having a 50% off sale). Because this book is going to leave soon, so thought might as well show it to you.
In the Shadow of Mountains are all photographs from Afghanistan. McCurry has been working in the area for decades now, shooting every now and then. He started in 1980’s when he illegally entered Afghanistan via Pakistan wearing a pathani suit with film sewn inside its seams (yes its true) and has been shooting there since then.
Hard bound, the book is heavy with thick prints on matt paper. One thing you notice is the writeup which actually doesn’t come on a full page but on pale yellow cutouts, somewhat hiding the prints, creating anticipation, somewhat like the lobby which takes you to a gallery. Also the book cover too has its title in the same yellow tone, a color which I suppose is very common in the areas with sand.
The book doesn’t really feature any conflict images, mostly draws attention to the daily life of people there, bazaars and their activities. Another great thing which Phaidon does is add notes about every picture in the end of the book which makes the photographs all the more interesting.