Archive for National Geographic Magazine

The Art of Editing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 31, 2010 by stevemccurry

The Eye of the Beholder

Whether you have hundreds of thousands of pictures in your archive or a few hundred, the process of editing your pictures down to the ones with the best aesthetic, the best composition, and the ones that illustrate your story or experiences best,  is a process that takes time, patience, and experience.

Here are some examples of near frames and the final selects.

INDIA-10003

Dust storm, Rajasthan, India, 1983


‘I was in a beat-up taxi travelling through the desert to a town called Jaisalmer. As we drove down the road, we saw a dust storm grow … Where we stopped, women and children worked on the road … In the strange dark orange light and the howling wind, battered by sand and dust, they sang and prayed.

INDIA-10003

Dust storm, Rajasthan, India, 1983

 

india-10219nf2khDust Storm vertical

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Select

INDIA-10872

Select

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Sahdu, India, 2010

Before the Afghan Girl was published on the cover of the National Geographic magazine, there was discussion about whether or not the image was too strong for the cover.  The person who advocated for putting it on the cover saw something others didn’t, and time and perspective proved that it was the picture that best illustrated the article, and also the picture that has stood the test of time.

Boy Found After Three-Year Search

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 12, 2010 by stevemccurry

In 2006 and 2007  I was on assignment for the National Geographic Magazine for a story on the Hazaras of Afghanistan.   I traveled west of Bamiyan City to a small village near the lakes at Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan’s first national park.

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Lake at Band-e-Amir 2002

I was visiting a school when I photographed this boy, Ali Aqa, who wants to grow up and be a lawyer.  When the story was published, many people around the world wanted to help him achieve his dream, but it has taken years to find him.

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Ali Aqa, 2007

His family is poor, his clothes used, but 15-year-old Ali Aqa isn’t deterred: He plans to be a lawyer. Childhood memories include Taliban occupation of his village in Bamiyan. “They burned everything, even my school,” he says. “I pray to God no regime comes like that again.” We have now located him with the help of the UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan) and school officials.  We are in the process of working with local educators to help him prepare to start his college education when he graduates from high school next year.

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Qala-e Sabzi, Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan, 2007.

There is nothing more gratifying than helping people whom I have photographed because most often, it is impossible to locate them again.

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Bamiyan City, Afghanistan 2002

 

Occupational Hazards

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by stevemccurry

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photo by Borut Sraj

One of the scariest experiences I’ve had in my career was crashing into a frigid glacial lake in the former Yugoslavia while on assignment for National Geographic.

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A twilight moon rises above the Kamniske mountains and Slovenia’s Sava River Valley, Slovenia.

I had hired a small, ultra-light, two-seater airplane in to do aerials over Bled Lake in Slovenia. The pilot flew down to the surface of the lake, very, very close — in fact so close that I told him to go up because we were only about five feet from the water.  If I had wanted to be that close I could have hired a boat, but it was too late. The wheels got caught in the water and we couldn’t pull out. We went down and as soon as the fuselage and the propeller hit the water, the propeller blew apart.

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Rijeka, Croatia, 1989

We flipped upside down in the 40-degree water in the middle of February and immediately began to sink. The cockpit was not enclosed. The seatbelt was a jerry-rigged homemade device and I hadn’t studied it and couldn’t get it off me.

I realized I was going to die. I guess that part of your brain concerned with self-preservation kicked in, and I slid underneath the contraption, literally went underneath, and was able to swim to the surface. The pilot made it, but didn’t attempt to help me.  My passport and equipment went to the bottom. Fortunately the pilot and I were picked up by a fisherman within ten minutes. Days later the plane was raised but all of my equipment is still 60 feet down.

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Picture of me in Lubiana before going to Lake Bled where my plane crashed.

There was another airplane incident in Africa.  Again, I was on assignment photographing the Sahel, that band of land that separates the Sahara Desert from the grasslands of the Savannah.

We got lost flying from Timbuktu in Mali back to the capital of Bamako. We had left in a sandstorm and started flying along the Niger River. I guess the pilot’s navigational instruments weren’t working. He literally could not find his way back to the capital.

 

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Chari River in the Sahel region near N’Djamena, Chad.

I watched him circling and I started to wonder what was going on.   He came back down through the clouds. It was getting dark and there was a huge thunderstorm right in our path.  The pilot dropped the small craft to search for his bearings.

Fuel was getting low, and we could never make it back to Timbuktu.  To the south, an enormous black wall of clouds loomed from the horizon – a monsoon storm.  In vain, for a half an hour we scanned the landscape searching for an opening.  We had no radio contact, and and no navigational equipment.  We prepared our last thoughts.

Finally, the pilot spotted a millet field, agonizingly small, but flat.  As we thundered in, I watched the wheel of the plane miss a six-foot hole by a few steps.

MALI PLANE

Muddy field, Mali

We shuddered to a stop with a few hard bounces.  Villagers ran out from the surrounding bush in wonderment as the sky opened up.   We slept on the plane that night, and finally found a vehicle to take us back to the capital city of Bamako, fourteen hours of bone-rattling roads.

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Niger River, Mali

 

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