Upstairs, Downstairs


For centuries, stairs have symbolized journeys, rites of passage,
and stages of  life in art, literature, and music.


My Soul. I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air,
‘Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
Fix every wandering thought upon
That quarter where all thought is done:
Who can distinguish darkness from the soul
William Butler Yeats


Stairs are climbed step by step.
– Turkish Proverb


Children’s stories tell tales of boys and girls discovering treasures upstairs in the
attic and fearing what is downstairs in the basement.


Faith is taking the first step even when
you don’t see the whole staircase.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.




Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe,
grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts,
emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
– John Steinbeck


Jodhpur, India

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be
through Earth’s loveliness.
– Michelangelo


Mt. Popa, Burma
The stairway climbs a 300-foot lava plug crowned by Buddhist temples.


Mother to Son
Well, Son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor —
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now —
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
– Langston Hughes

New York, September 12, 2001 


New York

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn’t any
other stair
quite like
i’m not at the bottom,
i’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
I always

Halfway up the stairs
Isn’t up
And it isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery,
It isn’t in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn’t really
It’s somewhere else
A.A. Milne


Steep steps
Uneven treads
– bmv





104 Responses to “Upstairs, Downstairs”

  1. Stunningly beautiful photos – so jealous!

  2. These pictures are amazing! The spiral staircase picture in Italy is my favorite.



  4. I really like your blog.

  5. Corina Says:

    awesome blog. keep up the good work!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    So beautiful !! Each photograph is a visual treat!!!

  7. Radhika Sethi Says:

    Excellent! Just breath taking. Only one issue sir. Kashmir is part of India. It would have been appropriate if you had captioned ” Kashmir, India”.

  8. Fantastic Sites…

    […]this is absolutely fantastic, added your site to my list[…]…

  9. Travel with ideas and art knowledge, and find a link in our memories, this gives more love to our trips. All we become richer , thanks Steve!
    G.Potente -Italy

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Steve, you are great…! i am a fan of your’s.
    Happy Clicking.
    Mr.Chandan D.N.Gaonkar(Panaji-Goa-India)

  11. very moving, the poetry sings with the images, beautiful

  12. i am really impressed by your post!

  13. A great collection of good photos with a great theme! I also like how you included quotes of staircases, etc.

  14. I love this theme! I’d love to use the theme of steps sometime! Some great photos. You do well at utilizing light to give the photos more impact.

  15. Your images and verse are just so artistic. THANK YOU!

  16. I am loving your pictures more, and more, and more,…..they are inspiring, alive, great, magical,…THANKS A LOT!!!

  17. I love the poems you selected…and the photos were pretty good too. 😉

  18. Jan F.. Says:

    Thank you for the gift of these photos and the verses! All art is in nature.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    thanks for posting your blogs so often!

  20. As usual, awesome colours and intriguing perspective, the balancing boat is a beauty.

  21. leeinsook Says:


  22. Anonymous Says:

    I just added your web page to my favorites. I like reading your posts. Thanks!

  23. Anonymous Says:


  24. Christina Says:

    Comfortable viewing of life and stairs !


  25. When one is on a path eyes and windows of mind open, evey moment offers a unique oppurtunity to capture an image and to share with the world. This is mandate given to every form of life by the universe. A small plant will share its best in spring with all the world without reservations, so does a good artist. This is what I believe what the artist’s mandate.

    Thank you for following the mandate and sharing.

    I salute your honesty in your expressions.


  26. jilltheobscure Says:

    Please subscribe me. Thanks, jill

  27. Reblogged this on On The Road… and commented:
    What a great theme!

  28. […] I always keep a watch on Steve McCurry’s blog, hoping that he will come up with a new post soon. His images never disappoint, like his recent compilation of photographs of staircases. […]

  29. Excellent Images, I love the themes of your sets. You are the best photographer I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs.

    Flickr :

  30. Once again, a total immersion in the transversals of the world. Magnificent journey, thank you Steve

  31. Anonymous Says:

    Too beautiful for words~

  32. Cindy Harvey Says:

    I just love it. Such food for thought and AMAZING photography.

  33. Just love the colour in your shots. Another top class series. Always well worth waiting for.

  34. ninagrandiose Says:

    Such a powerful theme. I wonder…what came first…the theme or the photographs?

  35. aytacgok Says:

    Reblogged this on 10th Village.

  36. One of the best sets I ever seen in this awesome blog? Hard to say…

    Steve McCurry, the best photographer ever? My opinion? For sure he’s it.

  37. Amazing work !

  38. wonderful compositions. wonderful insight into the world of stairs..!!

  39. Up we climb, one step at a time, in our on time. At first, thinking we know where we are going, and with each step we accomplish, we start on the next. Sometimes we stumbel, sometimes we fall, but we get back up and resume on our path up. Up we climb, one step at a time, in our on time. Each step a mark of were we’ve been, and were we’re going, and what it took to get there. Up we climb, one step in time, in our on time.

  40. Varlice Says:

    You are good, mister.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Brilliant colours and composition

  42. Wow! These photos are amazing!😀

  43. Jürgen Horster Says:

    Tolle Sammlung von Fotos, bin mal wieder schwer begeistert!

  44. Isabel R Estrela Says:

    beautiful photos

  45. Anonymous Says:

    beautiful collection!!!!

  46. almickey Says:

    A lot of emotion and one single word: exquisite!

  47. Beautiful photos!! I love your work here!

  48. my favourite photojournalist ever! thank you for your amazing pictures!

  49. It is so beautifully portrayed & photographed ,that be sure
    You just never can forget importance of the stairs in your life..
    Very much touching …..

  50. Fantastic photos!

  51. Thank you for sharing. There’s apparently no end to the mysteries and possibilities of this planet, the human and its ability to share.

  52. SMITHA Says:


  53. rafael10031 Says:


  54. Beautiful Capture.

  55. Fantastic images, powerful – thanks for showing them!

  56. Time and time again I’m in awe … Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures of adventures had and memories cherished.

  57. An amazing collection of travel photos, your work is inspirational!

  58. Stunning. Thank you.

  59. branka joldas Says:

    i had the honor to meet you years ago in Miami when, we curated show of Purvis Young ‘s and your art.
    i just wanted to say i admire you just as much i did before and the reason why you are the master of photojournalism,is because of your wonderful soul.

  60. Anonymous Says:


  61. Your photographs are incredibly breathtaking and emotionally powerful. I really enjoyed browsing through your blog. As a Tibetan, I particularly liked Yeat’s poem as juxtaposition to the photo. Wonderful work!

  62. Ashoke Chakrabarty Says:

    It is awesome…

  63. tskraghu Says:

    A feast for the mind and the eyes, of course.

  64. Your photographs are always an inspiration of mine. Thanks for sharing them.

  65. Caro sr Steve, o que me impressiona ainda mais que suas fotos de seu trabalho é a forma com que o sr vê o mundo, encontrando a beleza nas coisas mais simples.

  66. tara fae Says:

    WOW….! Speechless!

  67. I love getting your blog and the images are always interesting and amazing . Thanks for sharing them with us.

  68. very nice with the best composition &variety of color. thanks

  69. every one of your photos feel so epic. Love them all x

  70. soumen Says:

    Awesome, beautiful…

  71. Simply, art!
    Amazing… Congratulations…!

  72. janet o'donnell Says:

    once again breath taking pictures, i think i have a favourite and i see one i love even more. thank you again.

  73. This is the first time I’ve seen your work, bit new to photography, but I really like the strength of your images. That combined with the well chosen texts beautifully enhances what we’ve already seen.

  74. WOW. Wonderful and Amazing.. !!!

  75. Reblogged this on angelesgonzalezphotographs and commented:
    Fantastic photographs of Steve MacCurry

  76. Anonymous Says:

    The Best…

  77. Wonderful photographs, call pure expression of beauty, something you are one of the great and feel great admiration for your work.

  78. Great work from a true artist!

  79. Fantastiche!!!

  80. I’ve always loved all that stairs represent. I often dream of them. These are wonderful images. I’m especially smitten by the rock-strewn steps in the second photo, taken in Tibet.

  81. wonderful photos!

  82. Daniel Quiroga Says:

    saludos desde PERU eres el mejor Steve

  83. Just beautiful:) Thanks for inspiring me to pick up a camera

    • Anonymous Says:

      When I was going through some hard times about 10 years ago, I dreamt of stairs, inside a gray concrete building, going up and up. At the top was a dutch door (bottom half closed, top half open). Through the top of the door I could see bright sunlight, even though I couldn’t quite go through the door. Later I started taking photos of stairs, in Italy, in Machu Piccu, in Denver….still have them, even though I have burst into the sunlight since.

  84. Awesome shots! Love these!

  85. Achingly beautiful … A beauty not all eyes see. YOU have the gift. There is a certain responsibility with that gift. I think, though, that you get that….. you really get that.
    Thank you for inspiring me today, my friend. Bless you in your making,
    Janie Mills

  86. Anonymous Says:

    Great collection!

  87. You’re the man. you really are.

  88. Good afternoon, Mr McCurry…
    Today I have no words…
    Today I LOVE everything…Every image and every word….
    Thanks ,,,,A lot….

  89. jidhujose Says:

    awesome shots

  90. Wonderful series! Just love it!

  91. oh man… what an eye… A joy to look at…

  92. aytacgok Says:

    thanks for preparing and sharing such a nice work.

  93. I like every photograph shot by you.

  94. Mary Aggelou Says:


  95. lisette Says:

    Amazing collection of photographs! I wish that I could see what you see and take pictures of this explendid unique places and moments.

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