CNN Photos

Curiosity inspires iconic photographer

An iconic and renowned photojournalist, Steve McCurry has made his name photographing everything from conflict to portraits across the globe for 35 years.

Best known for his “Afghan Girl” portrait (image 2), McCurry draws inspiration from his curiosity of the world and the people living in it.

“It’s important to be curious no matter what profession you’re in,” McCurry said. Compelling imagery comes from wanting to show one’s fascination with the world.

By visualizing photo options, McCurry isolates the frame of an image from within its scene. Before choosing people for portraits, for example, he looks for a unique angle of the subject, such as their eyes or clothing, that makes him feel connected.

“The challenge is to convince them within 15 seconds to be my subject,” he said. “Respect is essential to establishing that trust.”

Working with good fixers and translators is also a key to success when working abroad. Not knowing the language or customs can lead to problems, he said.

While McCurry has become familiar with places he’s revisited, he continues to work in the same fashion: “travel to a place, work with the locals, and see what emerges.”

As they explore, photographers are responsible for witnessing events and informing the greater public, McCurry said, and for telling the stories of those without a voice.

“If people are informed and actually understand what’s happening, then hopefully some small change might happen for the good,” he said.

Many of his renowned images will be published in November in his retrospective book, “Steve McCurry: The Iconic Images.”

“(This book) gives me a new starting point for my next journeys, the next people groups I want to document, the next issues I want to expose,” he said.

- Elizabeth I. Johnson, CNN

All images are from "Steve McCurry: The Iconic Images," courtesy Phaidon Press.