Unseen, Unpublished Portraits




“A true portrait should today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person
looked and what kind of human being he or she was.”
– Philippe Halsman



As human beings we are fascinated with each other and how we look. Diane Arbus talked about the gap between intention and effect as revealed in portraiture. People put on make-up and adorn themselves because they want to create an effect and give a certain impression, but often other people look at them and say it’s tragic or comical or curious or funny or odd.  Portraiture can be that kind of sharp critique.


Marrakech, Morocco




Most of my portraits are not formal situations; they are found situations.




We go to another culture to observe how other people live. Sometimes you look at somebody and they have a strong presence, a look, a certain kind of attribute that comes out in the face.








A good portrait is one that says something about the person.  We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so the good portrait should also say something about the human condition.


Kunduz, Afghanistan



Kabul, Afghanistan



Mumbai, India


54 Responses to “Unseen, Unpublished Portraits”

  1. BarkyV Says:

    If only I could master lighting techniques as you do. Magnificent.

  2. Nelson Linares Says:

    You are a poetry !!

  3. Every time I open your blog I’m moved and really touched by the kind of feeling your photographs imprints on our souls;they really show that despite all misfortunes and pain and suffering, human beings are still capable of showing through their eyes and postures that they were created to be looked upon as unique and that they deserve respect and consideration and thanks to your amazing sense of humanity we are able to feel bonded to their lives in such a strong way that most of the times it hurts. Thanks for sharing your incredible experiences with us.

  4. What you’ve captured is poignant and priceless, but what impacts me more is what I share with you in understanding the journey that brought you to each image, ‘That’ speaks thru each portrait in a way that draws the viewer into the reality of this humanity, you are the invitation to cross the bridge and remember our humanity, thank you for the inspiration and the honor to see thru your eyes,
    Do take care of yourself in these extremely dangerous times ,


  5. Anonymous Says:

    Although I don’t unsder most of the words
    I was struck by these pictures .

  6. ayphotodesign Says:

    I love these portraits and I LOVE the quote by Philippe Halsman. I’m a mom and new to photography. All your photos are inspirational! Thank you for sharing them with us! I hope to learn to capture people and my world (even if it’s simply surrounded by three children a husband and the life we live) like you!

  7. Elisa Says:

    Dear Steve
    I think all of your photos are fantastic. You are a very talented photographer and I’m so amazed by you. I have been sitting for almost two hours just reading your blog, and i’m touched by all of these emotional pictures. You bring out the beauty in all of these tragic situations, and seeing the world through your eyes is important.
    I hope you will continue updating your wordpress-site.
    Thank you so much, greetings from Norway

  8. S. Danish Hussain Says:

    Dear Sir

    I have been your biggest fan and always shall address you as the GRAND MASTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY – when in India – please give me an oppurtunity to serve you

    Warm Regards
    Mobile : 91 + 93439 79950
    Landline: 080 22447851

  9. Beautiful work, I’m envious stuck in a studio!

  10. Thank you to share your work with us!
    best regards


    I love your images. You see the world through your soul.
    Thank You

  12. Albert Ruegg Says:

    Dear Steve
    These pictures convey a sort of peacefull emotion – these people must have had much trust in you (and you in yourself as a photographer).

    You write: “…We usually see parts of ourselves in others, so the good portrait should also say something about the human condition.” What do you mean by “the human condition”?


  13. This is a really true treasure photos, for me.

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful photos with all of us.

    Regards and Respect.

  14. Thank you to share your work with us!😉

  15. “…not forced situations, but found situations”. ….that would be overlooked by others with a camera or, sadly, ignored.

    I make paintings and other art.

  16. Shanti Savla Says:

    what a wonderful photograph…
    so many things to learn from you….thank you….:-)

  17. Sugandha Thakran Says:

    I have never physically travelled outside India. Yet I feel sometimes that I have seen the world through the photographs and stories of those who have. Mr McCurry is one of those storytellers for me. Thank you Sir.

  18. This is what is so powerful in photography… But also dangerous. Photography have the power to turn a dramatic, even horrible, situation, into a piece of art. make the unbearable suddenly just beautiful…
    So then, everybody has to make a decision. The photographer as well as the viewer. What do we want to see in this picture?

    You, Sir, travel through lands, most of the time through “wasteland” and bring back to us this unique revelation: beauty and ugliness are twin sisters.

    I use to be a “photographer” too and I carry this “revelation” as my bible…

    And I bow to you, Sir.

    • Sugandha Thakran Says:

      Mr Castan, while I agree that tragedy should not be trivialised, it is also important in these bitter and tumultous times to focus on the beauty in everything. Humans would lose humanity otherwise. Those of us who feel for those who suffer will continue to do so even with some sense of peace within.:-)

      • All your words make sense to me.
        I just say that the line to not cross is very thin. Beyond this line is pure esthetic where the human condition disappeared.

        And finally, only the great photographers, like Steve, are able to preserve all the humanity, as it is, dramatic or happy, while magnifying the vision.
        I spend a lot of time picturing simple people, poor people, people in a human dimension that makes the heart wanting to do something… And I try to hold them, through my photo, to a dignity they seems to have lost…

        All depends, finally on what is our purpose…
        Report this world as a beautiful place ? … Alert the rest of the world of what happens there ? … Well, for me it’s a real dilemma to chose or the beauty, or the alert…

        It’s a pleasure, sir…

  19. Gabriela Mota Says:

    Me encantaron sus fotografias!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Very good environmental portraiture.
    Who helps you screen/pick your shots? Do the editors decide what gets published? Do you get to pick your favorites for your anthologies?
    I self edited about 30,000 family pictures I took over three years into about 1400 I had printed for the photo albums. Its a tough job!

  21. Beautiful photos!

  22. Steve,
    Thanks to the technology we can share and enjoy such masterworks with a unique humanity touch as yours. Thanks for posting this and share with us.
    Congratulations …, keep posting
    Barcelona (Spain)

  23. Fantastic! Great photos, great trips, great feelings. Thank you for show us all this.

  24. Nice portraits as always.

    They are common people but have one thing uncommon which is photographed by you.:)

    Thanks for posting.

  25. Wonderfull portait …!:-)

  26. wonderful

  27. Thank you for sharing Mr. Mc Curry!

  28. excellent series again, thanks for keeping on inspiring so many of us

  29. Lucky Man.! Always travelling.!

  30. Nancy Evans Says:

    I am simply enchanted with your work. I am an artist working in encaustic and pastel.
    I did a pastel of the Bamiyan Valley photo and then did an encaustic. If you will let me know, I will send photos of both.
    My question? How do I give you credit for the shot? It is from “In The Shadow of Mountains”

    I help to support the new AWEC center in Kabul that my friend Anna Hacker funded. I love Afghanistan and hope one day to take this photo myself. It is beautiful.
    Tasha Kur, Nancy Evans, Tucson Az

  31. Mary Donnelly Says:

    Great to see your unpublished portraits,it was a pleasure to meet you in Dublin.
    Thank you for signing my daughters school project,she was very happy indeed,when we left the Gallery,the camera crew came after us as they wanted to interview my daughter and see her project she had created on your good self,so i dont know if you have seen it but RTE aired it on Thursday last. Needless to say, my daughter was a big hit at school,Thank you.

    • Just emailed a link to the above TV show to Mr McCurry. Missed it when it was shown but was able to watch it on the RTE Player website. Nice piece about a great photographer’s work! The Programme was called Capital D (it is about events in the city of Dublin, the Irish capital!)…the direct link is http://www.rte.ie/player/#v=1096341. Not sure if anyone outside the republic of Ireland will be able to view without ‘faking’ an Irish IP address through a proxy server.

  32. Caro sr Steve
    Ja dizia o poeta, os olhos sao as janelas da alma. e através deles podemos ver o que vai no fundo do coraçao de alguem, o que eles expressam é indisfarçavel é como se neles estivessem escritos todos nossos sentimentos,
    Seus retratos sao incriveis por que transmitem através do olhar das pessoas fotografadas tudo o que estao sentindo naquele momento

  33. Steve, as usual I find your work inspiring and deeply touching. What I keep noticing in your body of work is how you handle perspective, among other things. It always seems flawlessly perfect and natural. I am sure it’s no coincidence. It’s rare nowadays that even very successful photographers pay so much attention to such details. But I think they add to the ‘timeless’ aspect of the picture. We can be smitten by certain unusual angle or a special effect in a picture but in the end the ‘natural look’ always wins. We want to see images of life in their documentary beauty. Just like the quote above by Philippe Halsman implies: natural look and essence. That’s what counts.

    Greg Shanta

  34. Steve – your portraits still blow me away! Just awesome.
    For now and forever you will be one of my all time photography idols!


  35. Mortuza Biswas. Says:

    No BD…?

  36. Another great collection from you Steve ! Thanks for sharing your unpublished photos !

  37. I am looking at your site and blog on a daily basis! Keeps me focused to my target which is these kind of photos! And I know I will get there:) thank you!

  38. always inspiring…thank you

  39. Stunning, Steve. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about portraits as well. Thanks for your inspiration.

  40. Wonderful portraits and very good shoots! Bravissimo!!!

  41. Sweet portraits you captured Steve.

  42. If a picture is worth a thousand words then these photos are priceless. Awesome photos. Thanks for sharing.

  43. luca.pastine@alice.it Says:


  44. luca.pastine@alice.it Says:

    wondeful .. image

  45. Wonderful… as always!

  46. You Sir, are the BOSS and you inspire me, a lot.

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