Finding the Sublime

 Rajasthan, India

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.
T.S. Eliot

Yamdrok Tso Lake, Lhasa, Tibet

What are the scenes of nature that elevate the mind
and produce the sublime sensation?
…the hoary mountain, the solitary lake,
the aged forest and torrent falling over rocks.

– Hugh Blair, lecture notes from 1783.

Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir

Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless,
so that the mind in the presence of the sublime,
attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the
failure but pleasure in contemplating the
immensity of the attempt.
– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason



Bayon, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Lives of great people all remind us, we can make our lives sublime,
and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Preah Khan Temple, Angkor Wat, Camboida

Inle Lake, Myanmar/Burma

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Agra, India

Kathmandu, Nepal

Rajasthan, India

Thrissur Pooram, Kerala, India

Weligama, Sri Lanka


Greatly begin.
Though thou have time, but for a line, be that sublime.

Not failure, but low aim is crime.
-James Russell Lowell

Gujarat, India


Road to Sarobi, Afghanistan

Maimana, Afghanistan



Rajasthan, India

Four sublime states of mind  taught by the Buddha:

Sympathetic Joy

Sri Lanka

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

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.

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

In both buildings shape, size, scale, proportion, texture, color,
and light work together to sublime effect.

Basel, Switzerland


To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
William Wordsworth 

85 Responses to “Finding the Sublime”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you!

  2. Reblogged this on suny0ophotographie and commented:
    在Monza看了Steve Mccurry 的回顾展,看的同时听了他的录音讲解。跟只看图感觉差比很大,感觉被他带入照片。此时再看照片已是另一种感受。

  3. Rosina Rucci Says:

    thank you for that brief trip to Heaven . . . many blessings to you

  4. Beautiful Collection…Seeing your work is quite often an unforgettable experience. Here I find so many that leave lasting impressions on me. Your ‘Rajasthan’ with women folks in RED against desert hues is certainly one of them.
    म्हारो राजस्थान रंगीलौ,प्यारो राजस्थान
    वीरा-धीरा री आ धरती,म्हाने गराव गुमान
    म्हारो राजस्थान रंगीलौ,प्यारो राजस्थान …..

  5. This is my first time visiting your blog. I learned of it through your interview on News. Lovely, lovely work! I need to share this with a photographer friend! I will be Back!

  6. Congratulations!
    Featured in ADORABLE WORKS OF MY CHOICE at Liviz

  7. Seeing your work is quite often an unforgettable experience. Here I find so many that leave lasting impressions on me. Your ‘Rajasthan’ with women folks in RED against desert hues is certainly one of them. The Sri Lanka (Buddha) is to my mind one of the very best Buddhist photography ever taken. Warm regards and very best wishes for you, Steve!

  8. […] away from things for a while, and on that subject; I’ve just spent a sublime half an hour looking at the blog of Steve McCurry, oh my, what a joy his photographs are,  his reasons for blogging are interesting too. I may […]

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Discovered Cartier-Bresson in the 1960s and realized I was not yet a photographer. Tried to see life through his eyes ever since…with some success. Now you have added to the realization…on-going…of what it takes to see life thru the eyes and imagination of a true photographer. Thanks so much.

  10. true frozen crystals of time capturing the moment as it was just in that moment – true mindfullness –
    thank you – bob

  11. Reblogged this on c r é é e.

  12. The first picture with the elephant is really a great picture ! You can feel the atmosphere here.
    Other pictures are also excellent.

  13. Mind blowing. I love how you capture people and moments. Just beautiful!

  14. Christian George Says:

    Impressive, peaceful.

  15. lucy shaw Says:

    Absolutely stunning photos…. great way to capture life in moments…..

  16. More sensational photography. Extraordinary.

  17. These are exquisite images. What a beautiful way to move through this world, truly seeing it! You also seem to have captured the inner strength in all your subjects.

    You have a wonderful blog.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    truly sublime!

  19. This is really amazing! I love the pictures here! It’s bright colors, so sharp and yeah, it’s fantastic!:-) I really enjoy your pictures, and this really inspired me, about taking pictures!

  20. Your work is perhaps my all-time favorite! Thank you for sharing it with the world! You have a true gift for storytelling.

  21. I admire your photos, they are really yavru alabalık . thank you very much. yavru alabalik.

  22. There is true love in these photos, Steve. The elephant and man on the rock, stirs my heart. You have done a fabulous job. Blessings – Maxi

  23. […] wonderful and striking photographs are by Steve McCurry, from his recent Finding The Sublime post. You should definitely click over there to see them all. Steve has popped up here before with his […]

  24. So fascinating that I could stare at these for hours on end. Masterful, insightful…amazing!

  25. Reblogged this on msamba and commented:
    A profound way to use WordPress.

  26. Isabel Martinez Says:

    Absolutamente imagenes que me dejan sin palabras.genial

  27. None less than best…

  28. Isolete Calheiros Says:

    Sublime indeed! Your blog, I mean. I love the photographs and the quotations. wonderful work.

  29. blackwatertown Says:

    Once again – stunning and indeed sublime.

  30. Vous rendre visite est toujours un moment d’une incroyable beauté, un moment de grâce. Merci ! Merci de partager ces images.

  31. One of the most inspiring blogs I’ve ever seen.
    Thanks from Bilbao :)

  32. Windandrain Says:

    Dear Steve-With a loved one being so gravely ill, this email was sent to me by pure coiincidence even tho I myself do not believe in coiincidence. It was stunning in art, lovely w/ forgotten poetic passages and greatly appreciated by myself. Great work. Thank you so much for creating it.

  33. To think I could have missed seeing your work!

  34. José Roberto Luppino Says:

    I love all. I love Steve’s work. Jose, from Brazil.

  35. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Fotos como sólo McCurry sabe crear

  36. Margaret Mair Says:

    I have been following your blog, enjoying the images and then the combinations of words, images and ideas you put together. So I nominated you as a “Versatile Blogger”.

  37. Simply Beautiful- outstading work- keep it up- with best wishes

  38. Anonymous Says:

    Really Nice..!

  39. I feel the inner-peace through your photos, thank you……

  40. RedCat430 Says:

    Some of these photos I had already seen! But they are all beautiful! And I like your blog’s new theme!

  41. Tanmoy chatterjee Says:


  42. Having seen most of the pictures here in the exhibition at Caja Canarias in Santa Cruz de Tenerife last night, and having listened to you speak about them afterwards, really, all I can say is a heartfelt thank you for sharing your view of the world so movingly. I was far too shy to ask you a question last night, though I had a half dozen whirling around my brain, and I couldn’t afford a book (though I will soon!) so I didn’t queue up afterwards either. So silly. I would like to have told you in person, perhaps shaken your hand, but I hope that you perhaps will see this comment and know how much your work moved my friends and me. We will be returning to the exhibition time and time again before it finishes.

  43. Steffan Williams Says:

    What an amazing array of beautiful photos. Very awe-inspiring. You should seriously think about collating them all into an actual book (if you haven’t already, that is.) Incredible talent.

  44. What a list of masterpieces ! Congratulations ! Very inspiring !

  45. Beautiful… Once again, a joy to view your blog page!

  46. Just great and no more words are needed!! These are images that speak by themselves.

  47. Beauty, being one of the five trancendentals of God, can only be truly appreciated when united with a deep gratitude that we were made in His supremely beautiful image.

  48. Reblogged this on cjawest.

  49. Amazing Photos … Brilliant Work … Well Done!:)

  50. Len Clift Says:

    memories of eastern lands vividly revived

  51. jidhujose Says:

    glad to see my place here – Thrissur pooram – thanks


  52. What a good series! Colourful, sensible. You feel like spring is really coming.:-)

  53. margarida marques Says:

    Beautiful! A pleasure for our eyes and soul.

  54. Superb:)

  55. Reblogged this on Jenny's Serendipity and commented:
    All your photos are striking!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. That was a beautiful journey through the scroll !

  57. Beautiful life as it is.

  58. Michael Gossman Says:

    Thank You.

  59. You sir, are an inspiration.

  60. bouphaphanh Says:

    Hi Steve, love your work! Amazing images that tells story!. All beautiful photographs!

  61. Olga Celle Says:

    Thanks Steve, beautiful again!

  62. Love all your posts, Steve, but this one is magnificent. Thanks so much.

  63. As always, your views of places and people are so beautiful, sublime and heartwarming.

  64. Tears & laughter from the ‘no greater joy’ page of your blog, thank you.

  65. Caro Sr Steve,
    Um tema fantastico,
    Para conseguir ver a a harmonia a beleza e encontrar o sublime que esta a nossa volta precisamos estar com a mente e o coraçao em paz, cheio de amor.
    Como sempre as fotos estao maravilhosas, mas uma em especial fez meus olhos brilharem, a que foi feita no Rio de Janeiro pois vivo nesta cidade e nao me canso de fotografa-la (blog) e admira-la
    Abraços do Rio ( Brazil)

  66. Anonymous Says:

    simply beautiful!

  67. @@@@@ A M A Z I N G P H O T O G R P H Y !! @@@@@

    mainly i like your view, subjects @@@@@ A M A Z I N G !! @@@@@ !!

  68. lucyray Says:


  69. Reblogged this on wincharles.

  70. Thank you for the reminder and the oasis of pure peace and beauty.

  71. true life…

  72. Luis Miguel Manchinelly Says:

    Just, sublime…!

  73. Steve, i just love your world, thank you for sharing visions i probably will never have the opporunity to see

  74. Fantastico!!!Gracais por compartir … ojala algún dia pueda hacer las fotos la mitad que tu.

  75. Hi Steve, Your photos are the best as always. Big hug from your friend – Attila –

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