Ciudad Oculta, the Hidden City

I was recently in Buenos Aires for the opening of my exhibition in the Centro Cultural Borges.  I met and worked with some amazing students who are taking part in a unique photography program called ph15.  Fifteen is the number which identifies the slum on the edge of Buenos Aires where they live.  Here are some of their pictures.

Through learning how to look at and depict the different realities of their lives, both as individuals and in a group, the students learn to explore everything that surrounds them and to express themselves through their personal views, and with a new perspective.

Showing the work produced by the ph15 students is one of the most important parts of the project.  Each student participates in selection, mounting, framing, and hanging.  The exhibition venues range from local venues to museums in Europe, North and South America and beyond.
Ph15 helps the students to take full ownership of the neighborhood in which they live,  but also learn how to move around the city and know places where they usually don’t go or do not have access.


Ph15 generates a space where adolescents can develop their identities and improve their social and cultural conditions. Ph15 uses the creative power of photography to open an alternative route for students that transmits values and cultural understanding that belong to them and are not imposed by others’ expectations.


Listening to the students discuss their plans for the future, almost all of them hoped to continue with photography in some way. PH15 has provided them with the support and confidence to help positively shape the future of the neighborhood and their lives.


56 Responses to “Ciudad Oculta, the Hidden City”

  1. I thank you for the inherent beauty of your pics. the blog is awesome.from Mar del Plata, argentina susan

  2. […] Later I’ve seen Steve McCurry’s Blog! […]

  3. you are the God of photography

  4. Hi Steve I’m one of countless fans i imagive not an easy task to to respond to even slight amount of messages you get here! Just curious if you plan any future exhibits or presentations talks etc in LA area?
    I just would love to get a chance to have a photo taken with you so that i can say i met you in person to my friends
    well and of course to learn some photographic knowledge too!

    Thank you Tom

  5. […] The initiative for starting this organization came from  a group of adolescents living in  “Ciudad Oculta“, or Hidden City, who wanted to learn photography. Follow the links and take a look at their […]

  6. […] They are an organization that was created by the initiative of a group of adolescents from the “Ciudad Oculta”, or Hidden City, who wanted to learn photography. Their photography will take your breath […]

  7. Steve your photos are..incredible. You are able to transmit a lot with just a shot. It is a great thing that there are photographers like you. Please go on and on with these wonders! Elena

  8. Steve your photos are..incredible. You are able to transmit a lot with just a shot. It is a great thing that there are photographers like you. Please go on and on with these wonders!


  9. gabrielabaldomir Says:

    Hi Steve, when I was a child I used to live nearby of Hidden City. Recently, I found out about the ph15 project and I think that it is wonderful. I admire you work, you do very much for the people around the world. Big hug (sorry my english) Gabriela.

  10. Son genios PH15! I worked closely with Eugenio, who has been with PH15 since it’s inception. It’s wonderful to see your blog post about them.

  11. Really enjoyed your talk at the National Portrait Gallery yesterday. Very insightful and inspirational. Thanks, Steve.

  12. Danielle Says:

    Great to see you mention PH15! I met one or two of the students in BA and I loved their enthusiasm. Great images.

  13. I came upon your site truly by good fortune stumbling through blogsearch on google. Certainly this is not just another WordPress blog! I am writing a blog too with the intention of sharing amazing stories about instincts and intuitions. I wanted to follow other blogs that are devoted to doing good in the world; those who feel called to serve more than themselves.. This photo journalism and commentary is incredible. One of my tag lines is “What if a word is worth a thousand pictures”
    There aren’t sufficient words to describe your pictures and the work you are doing to share the pictures and souls of others around the world…Thanks..Stephanie Alt, MS

  14. […] Later I’ve seen Steve McCurry’s Blog! […]

  15. Steve, love this blog, it is especially good that you use your blog to publish student works, I particularly like the 3rd one with poster of a lady.

    I am currently living in Cambodia, do post on blog if you are coming to cambodia for exhibition. =)

    PS: I am an admirer of your works and passion, went to your photo exhibition in KL and also bought your UNGUARDED MOMENT… =P

  16. Hi Steve,

    How was you workshop in India this year?


  17. Thank you very much for you work and your heart, showing the students work at your blog teach to all us how important is to share all what we recieve from the others. Big men can be recognized by their generosity, and you are a very big man.

  18. aswirly Says:

    What a wonderful program. I think these students have a bright future ahead.

  19. Buenos Aires is one of my favorite cities. Thank you for sharing its hidden side and for introducing meto people not encountered on the tourist trail! The 2nd image really moves me.

  20. You make my heart leap each time. I commend you for the work youve done and most especially this one with ph15. Young men and women (like me and them) look up to people like you…because as we continue to journey through life, we realize how dark the road is and every time we see a light shining forth from other human beings, we feel a sense of security and comfort. That after all, were not alone in this world.

    Life here in the Philippines is quite the same way (and you know that) but nevertheless, the light is still lit. And I firmly believe that better days are yet to come😉

  21. Steve you’ve given these children real impetus, direction and hope in life, to say the least! It must be a rewarding for yourself! It’s giving something back, not just through your photographs but in person!

  22. Hello, Steve!
    I wanted to ask you first of all you could authorize me to make a post commenting on his work and it would take some photos on your blog logical that with your name!

    Daniel Aragão.

  23. Great Blog and so good to read more about PH15, they are doing great work in BA. Love your photographs:-)

  24. Steve, i have a an old Nikon N70 film camera that i dont use anymore. Do you know of projects like this in India (i live in India) where i could donate this camera so that an interested& needy kid might benefit?


  25. Niabail Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I LOVE your photos. They are pieces of art that strike emotional chords deep within me… I recently visited your exhibition in KL Islamic Arts Museum and realized that you have conducted some classes here that I missed!

    Would you be conducting any classes in KL anytime soon? Is there a way I can keep myself in the mailing list for your courses?

    Do you see yourself as a journalist or an artist? I feel that all photographers are exhibitionists:-) i.e. they make art to communicate…and will not be satisfied if their work is only available to themselves…what do you think? How much do you enjoy the process of taking photos vs seeing the impact of your photos on others?

    Thanks for sharing, Steve.
    You are an inspiration!!


  26. Nahuel Alfonso Says:

    Hola Steve

    Quiero agradecerte nuevamente por acompañarnos en ciudad oculta (fue una experiencia muy enriquecedora en nuestra formación fotográfica) y por esta publicación el tu blog.
    Me alegra mucho ver las fotos de mis compañeros y mías aquí.
    Hasta pronto.

    Nahuel Alfonso – Fundación ph15

  27. […] McCurry’s latest post is on the photography of students who live in a Buenos Aires slum. One of the reasons that post interests me, apart from the photographs themselves (I particularly like the 4th and 5th on that page) is that it underscores a point I made recently concerning Susan Sontag’s On Photography. […]

  28. Great pics!!

  29. salvador Says:

    great work!

  30. I’ve seen ur photo exhibition in Buenos Aires last week, i love ur photo!!!!
    simply fantastic !!

  31. Very interesting, we will contact you visit our country succeeds Mr McCurry

  32. thank you so much for sharing this with the world. and thanks for your simplicity and humility of sharing time and knowledge with them!

  33. Penelope Evans Says:

    Thanks Steve for sharing these photos. I want to do more to support the excellent work of ph15. And greetings Emma!

  34. Sharanya Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I’m a reader from India, and I just want to know — were these photos taken on a film camera, or a digital camera? As in, are students taught to use film? I know film is dying a fast death and that in another 2 months (or so I was told at a photo studio here in Bombay),they will be gone due to the high expenses involved in processing and the presence of digital media. So I’m curious to know if film is used at all, or if it has been abandoned for good. What are your views on this, especially on black-and-white film rolls?

    • Hello,
      Those photos were taken on film, and then we scanned to put on the blog.
      Thanks for your question.

      • Sharanya Says:

        Fantastic. It’s extremely heart-warming to know that film still gets used. Thanks so much for your prompt reply, Steve.

  35. Thanks for sharing your experience in Argentina, Steve.
    I met some of the guys working for PH15 at a pinhole workshop last year and since then I have been following their activities through the net. I really admire their work.

  36. That is a very impressive work ! Thanks for sharing it.

  37. Alvaro Menendez Says:

    Very interesting images. I will travel to Argentina next summer and I hope to come back home with a lot of great photos!!!

    I didn´t know you have a Nikon D3… Great camera!


  38. nice post mr.mccurry!
    and students looks so happy with you.
    un saludo

  39. Andy Kwek Says:

    Hi Steve,

    I am from Singapore and currently in Buenos Aires for business. I read from the inflight magazine that you’re having your photos exhibited and rushed there to see it. Your photos are amazing and very inspiring for a amateur photographer like myself. Also adding that you have a very interesting blog.


  40. very moving, and always refreshing to see their world through their eyes. great stuff, thanks for another super post!

  41. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for sharing photographs …

    Each of it has a reason to there, I wish I can understand those.


  42. petebrook Says:

    Great post Steve. Thank you for sharing this. Community going viral! The fourth image, I’ll call it ‘Gloria Vanderbilt’ is really engaging.

  43. Like all your photos, wonderful. I am a deep admirer of your work.
    Greetings from Murcia (Spain)

  44. Great project… this is what photography is all about!

    Learning to see the world in a new light and expressing that new view through your images. A lot of interesting photos, I like the first one especially. It’s always interesting to see a place through the eyes of someone who lives there and spends everyday there.

    Thanks for pointing this out Steve!

    Greetings from Iceland

    Styrmir Kári

  45. I wasn’t expecting to find a person I have seen before in your pictures. One of the persons in the group photo worked in a school near my house, his name -if I recall correctly- is Pablo.

    Allow me to translate what the postcard says:
    In this picture I imagine the suffering of these men who are working to feed their kids or to sell that aliment and buy other needed things.
    — Sebastian, 14 years old.

  46. some amazing photos there.. first one blew me away..
    workshops like that are such an invaluable way of helping people without needing them to verbalize their hardships..
    i used to teach them to inner city groups – enabling the kids to express their family lives to piers.. understanding without speaking..
    some real tough kids..
    so refreshing to see people photograph their own environment.. through their eyes rather than a PJ´s..
    good stuff steve-

  47. Francesco B. Says:

    Beautiful post, Steve, and beautiful pictures. It truly fills one’s heart with hope.

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