The Eye of the Beholder


 The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, are two of the world’s most iconic buildings.   They both evoke passionate emotions, even love, despite being  on opposite ends of the historical and architectural spectrum.



Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Built with translucent white marble and inlaid with gems from China, Tibet, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the Arabian peninsula


 In both buildings shape, size, scale, proportion, texture, color, and light  work together to spectacular effect, but very simple structures can also be designed to bring aesthetic pleasure.



Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
Constructed with a steel frame covered with titanium sheathing

What makes things pleasing to our eyes, and how can the design of everything from majestic buildings to simple utilitarian structures bring delight?



Kyoto, Japan

For centuries, there has been documented evidence that people have preferences for structures in the built environment and in the natural environment that have certain geometric  proportions known as the golden ratio or golden proportion.


Red Fort, New Delhi, India

  The ratio of length to width of approximately 1.618  appears not only in art and architecture, but also in natural structures.


Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet



Junagarh Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India


Step Well, India


Kimberly Elam’s book,  Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition, points out that things in nature as different as
the human body, the pine cone, and the trout all share natural proportioning systems that provide the foundation for all art, architecture, and design.


Summer Palace, Beijing, China

Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is
recognition of the pattern.
 – Alfred North Whitehead, Mathemetician


INDIA-10997, Jodhpur, India, 2005

Jodhpur, India



Gujarat, India


INDIA-10966,  Jaipur, India, April, 2008, Final print_Novartis

Jaipur, India, 2008

 On photography and geometry:

“For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson



“Let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors.”  –  Plato 


49 Responses to “The Eye of the Beholder”

  1. Incredibly beautiful. Your themes and your pictures are both inspiring.

  2. brainwaves…

    […]The Eye of the Beholder « Steve McCurry's Blog[…]…

  3. Amazing photographs Steve…

  4. Amazing photos …
    Love your photography ….
    I was lost in your images …
    One day I shall meet you …
    Best regards

  5. Dear Mr McCurry , it’s an honor to write in your blog.
    Two weeks ago I was in Nice to see your exhibition and it was simply unbelievable.
    The way you show us the world and the light you use to do it are amazing .
    I’d like to ask you some questions: what do you think about digital camera? and what about the post-production? thank you for your work !!
    Kind Regards

  6. Thank you, Steve. Amazing photography and perfect title! Life holds a great mystery of its fundamental structure which it reveals to those who seek. I find photography a wonderful tool in that search of life’s fundamental beauty. That’s why I do it. It opens up my eyes.

    Greg Shanta

  7. Every picture is a shot that captures time. Not just this collection, but everyone of them.

  8. Love looking at your work..

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your work!


  10. Steve: We have shared some wall space (Camera Obscura, Denver).

    Your work is truly astonishing. BSG

  11. Magnificent work, Steve!! Keep clicking!😉

  12. A red umbrella, and two people with red shirts in the Taj Majal photo– you are a patient genius!

  13. similar subject matter is all the more powerful put together, I must review my library, thank you….:)

  14. perfect pictures! I will go to India soon:) hope to make some great pictures as well!

  15. Anton Zoghi Says:

    Mr. Mccurry you are the most amazing photographer ever. No one can match your exellence.

    Kind regard.

    Anton P. Zoghi

  16. […] you haven’t checked photographer Steve McCurry, you need to. You may know him better as the photographer who photographed the Afghan Girl for […]

  17. These photos are amazing! It’s as if I was there! Thanks for sharing.:)

  18. the photo of the man next to the stairs in jodhpur…is the most beautiful photo ever.wt brilliant composition.

  19. wonderful set of documentary images with some perfect framing and composition

    the taj mahal shot in particular grabbed me – I’ve never seen a better shot of this and probably never will – stunning.

  20. Super fantastic Sir…

  21. Amazing, I’ve seen photos of some of these places before, but seldom taken from the point of view of Street Photography, these are excellent!!!!

  22. Exequiel F Says:

    I didn´t know anything about the Step Wells.
    Besides photography I learned geography and arquithecture from your blog.

    Amazing photos.

  23. Thank you, thank you, for sharing these stunning images…….as you always do!
    I get so much pleasure from your posts.

  24. Great collection Steve ! Excellent framing with a great use of human scale !

  25. Guess that your favorites destinations is Kabul and all of india. I think i Will go there once and many times after.

  26. With every of my visits, I enjoy your posts, but these are awesomely spectacular images! Thank you!

  27. BhasmangJoshi Says:

    Awesome work,sir!
    Thank you for sharing!

    I am going to get here…some day!:)

  28. Red looks so good contrasting the other tones in the firtst photo. I like very much, also, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10.

  29. Margarida Says:

    A pleasure for the eyes. A door to emotions. Thanks.

  30. Love the photos and what is interesting is that I’ve been planning on doing a blog post on mathmatics in photography based on H.C.B.’s “Golden Mean” thougts. I’ve always felt that when the scene just feels right it is because of the balance that has been provided by the mathmatics of the scene. It is the “geometry” that gives it the feeling. Crazy, I know…:-)

  31. Stunning collection, everything so precisely placed …

    Thanks for sharing:)

  32. Excelent photos, Steve. We always learn in your blog about composition and light.
    Unas fotos excelentes. Siempre se aprende sobre los encuadres y laluz en tu blog.

  33. Gena Tussey Says:

    Incredible! Spent some toodling around India to some of the same location….amazing country so full of light and visual delights…it’s hard not to take a stunning image there…but you outdid yourself!

  34. Says:

    Steve, your “Eye of the Beholder” is a ‘Feast to the Eyes’ as well. I have a ‘sad’ comment however, about The Taj Mahal, that the originally inlaid gems had been so cruelly pulled out and taken away by the British during their rule on India. I don’t think one can see those gems any more!


  35. Prezado Sr Steve,
    Este assunto da proporcionalidade das estruturas é muito interessante , quando observamos a natureza com um olhar mais atento percebemos que todas as suas formas estao em perfeita harmonia e nós, construtores, pintores,fotografos ,escultores …quando executarmos nossa atividade se respeitarmos essas “proporcões ” e nos sentirmos envolvidos por elas no momento que estamos realizando nosso trabalho, como diz nosso mestre Bresson , com certeza estaremos contruindo algo que nos trara uma grande satisfaçao

  36. Beautiful pictures, Thanks

  37. the comments have already expressed the things I wanted to say.

    I came across your photos probably a month ago and since then have been looking forward to seeing new ones.

  38. Steve….usted es una gran inspiración para seguir en este duro y competitivo mundo de la fotografía.. Gracias

  39. Anbazhagan Says:

    Stunning collection !

  40. geetanjali Says:

    awesome photos………loving it

  41. Your work continues to inspire me. Thank you for sharing your talent.:)

  42. I love the lines that subtly complement the composition.


  44. Thank you for sharing these wonderful places with those of us that can’t travel to them ourselves. Excellent photos, as always.

  45. Beautiful pictures, Steve, bravo !

  46. Thank you for sharing again, and do it often as you are doing:-)

  47. wonderful photos steve… I never saw the part of the Red fort you have shown.

  48. Great photos like always, Steve. Thank You for sharing.

    Kind Regards.

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