Know Who You Are

Know, first, who you are …. and then adorn yourself accordingly.
– Epictetus

Omo Valley, Ethiopia


The more people explore the world, the more they realize
in every country there’s a different aesthetic.
Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
– Helena Christensen

Native American Woman, Palm Springs, California

If you were to gather all the clothes you have ever owned in your life,
you would have your autobiography.

–  Linda Grant, The Thoughtful Dresser


Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma.
– John Fairchild


United States

The employment of body marks to denote class, totems, and
families illustrates stages in the evolution of group consciousness and a
sense of corporate existance.
– W. D. Hambly, The History of Tattooing, 1925

United States


Bride on her wedding day, India

Up, up, fair bride, and call
Thy stars from out their several boxes, take
Thy rubies, pearls, and diamonds forth, and make
Thyself a constellation of them all.
– John Donne

Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia





A Surma woman in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Kalash Woman in Pakistan


Thanaka cream, ground from tree bark,  has been used by Burmese women to
decorate their faces for thousands of years.

Omo Valley, Ethiopia

An actor with painted face in costume for the “Lulu” show , during the Spoleto Art Festival, Spoleto, Italy


…Keep the color in your cheek and the fire in your eye,

adorn your person, maintain your health, your beauty and your animal spirits.
– William Hazlitt

 Beqaa Valley, Lebanon


Young Wodaabe Man, Niger
Niger’s Wodaabe men decorate their faces and dance for hours to impress female judges.

United States

Baluchistan, Pakistan


No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face.
–  John Donne, on the beauty of old age


It is common for men in Kashmir to use henna dye on their hair or beards.
They also wear clothes of vivid colors. A subtle mix of colorful fabrics surrounds the man’s
while his beard, like a flame, flickers from his chin.

 Saddhu, India

We adorn ourselves to stand out,  fit in, to establish our identity and status,
communicate our roles,
and to find our place in the world. 


Oeksnehallen, Copenhagen, Denmark – Ongoing
Gallery N, Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul, South Korea – Opening on September 12th, 2012
Leica Photokina, Hall 1, Cologne, Germany – September 18, 2012
Centro Municipal de Arte Helio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – October 6th, 2012
Plazzo Ducale, Genova, Italy – October 17, 2012
Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles – November 15, 2012
Chris Beetles Gallery, London, U.K. – January 15, 2013
Kunstmuseum-Wolfsburg, Germany – January 19, 2013

Kunsthalle Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland – June 1, 2013


105 Responses to “Know Who You Are”

  1. […] foto, Steve McCurry  jurava estava olhando para uma mulher, mas percebeu que se tratava de um jovem guerreiro […]

  2. […] Certain that I was looking at a beautiful tribeswoman, McCurry himself captioned the photo on his own blog as “young male Wodaabe […]

  3. Beautiful photography

  4. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to publish more on this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not discuss such subjects. To the next! Kind regards!!

  5. Beautiful photography – the opening quote is so true! Cheers from Lagos, Nigeria

  6. […] Know, first, who you are …. and then adorn yourself accordingly. – Epictetus Omo Valley, Ethiopia India The more people explore the world, the more they realize in every country there’s… Steve McCurry, photojournalist, displays his recent work in essay form as well as offering a gallery of well-known work. Steve McCurry is an American photojournalist best known for his photograph, "Afghan Girl" that originally appeared in National Geographic magazine.  […]

  7. […] Know, first, who you are …. and then adorn yourself accordingly. – Epictetus Omo Valley, Ethiopia India The more people explore the world, the more they realize in every country there’s… Steve McCurry, photojournalist, displays his recent work in essay form as well as offering a gallery of well-known work. Steve McCurry is an American photojournalist best known for his photograph, "Afghan Girl" that originally appeared in National Geographic magazine.  […]

  8. Its the best street and portrait photography I ever seen. Love the color and emotion on each photo.

  9. Hats off to you Sir….Always followed your work !!

  10. […] Blog url […]

    • My husband George and I have loved your work for many years and subscribe to National Geographics. Your pictures touch my heart. I have begun my autobiography and family historical background, learning to use pictures on facebook and blogging.

  11. Amazing portraits! Thank you so much. What about mine?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    i always learn something new from your posts!

  13. Anonymous Says:

    i love this blog.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Amazing work!

  15. My first visit. Won’t be my last. More than impressed. Grateful, Dazzled, & Inspired.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you so much for your dedication.

  17. Reblogged this on Pedro Fernandez Photography and commented:
    Stunning, amazing, astonishing… Simply great Steve McCurry

  18. Reblogged this on Living It Up in Ecuador and commented:
    Needed to share Steve McCurry’s blog. Amazing photography…Enjoy !

  19. wordpress…

    […]Know Who You Are « Steve McCurry's Blog[…]…

  20. Anonymous Says:

    great blog!

  21. You have he greatest good ! Seeing the thongs this way! Thanx that we can follow and enjoy this!
    Graetings from Spain! The german Sophie

  22. lesliesgallery Says:

    What a wonderful portrait series! Well done and well deserved. These photos look as if they have been collected over many years, I think it would be interesting to hear the stories behind them.

  23. irenaberdon Says:

    Reblogged this on Irena Berdon and commented:
    Hi Steve, you are really great could you add me a tip on my work. Check it out
    Thank you !!!

  24. Anonymous Says:

    great post!

  25. Fantastic!!!!!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Just amazing

  27. Dear Steve, another blog I read today linked to yours and so I’ve visited for the first time. Your photographs here of people around the globe and how they decorate their faces and their bodies is truly part of my whole spiritual belief in the Holy Oneness of All Creation, of which you and your camera, and all these human beings, and myself and the cats with whom I live are a part. Thank you for your work that reveals this Oneness to us. Peace.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    When I saw the picture of the Kalash Woman
    I was so happy to know that I could see the real Kalash culture.
    It’s so fascinating but its a shame that there are less than 4,000 ‘real’ Kalash left.
    The girl was very pretty!

  29. Excelentes imágenes, dignas de un maestro, señor McCurry muchas gracias por compartir estas hermosas historias de vida.

  30. nice to see Asia through ”Steve’s”lens………

  31. Wonderful portraits……ethnic portrayals
    kindly visit and give feedback on my story on portraits..
    Thanks and love.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Absolutely awesome!

  33. This is amazing. Love every single one of them.

  34. İbrahim Demir Says:

    l love your photos.l look them everyday and think ”one day can l take like Steve McCurry”.Why you dont write your camera an lenses on your photo.Congrats from Turkey.

  35. Beautiful pictures. Portraits that express their soul!!!

  36. hutchphotography2020 Says:

    Awesome images. Well shot.

  37. Anonymous Says:


  38. Stunning portraits and colour to die for.

  39. Fantastic collection as usual .. ! Bravo !!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    loved it!

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Great stuff. thanks for sharing

  42. Silvio PADULA Says:

    Amazing Faces, Amazing world…just from fantastic Artist !

  43. Marduk Serrano López Says:

    Beautiful work, thanks a lot for these inspiring, amazing and heart-feeder images and the sparkling and brilliant texts. Congratulattions!

  44. beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder…stunning images that easily convey the culture of each place…!

  45. I love them all…..kept looking at their souls. You capture their spirits.

  46. superb, 10+10+10

  47. Each portrait is a masterpiece. You had keep the soul, not only face.

  48. Reblogged this on panalyah's Blog and commented:
    Know, first, who you are.. And then adorn yourself accordingly.
    – Epictetus

  49. Anonymous Says:

    love them. all of them.

  50. Wonderful stuff, Steve.

  51. Your blog posts are simply beautiful ~ every time! Love reading/seeing them.

  52. Ranking On The First Page…

    […]Know Who You Are « Steve McCurry's Blog[…]…

  53. Simply stunning and you always find THE most amazing faces. Thank you for your inspiration.

  54. Descargar gratis…

    […]Know Who You Are « Steve McCurry's Blog[…]…

  55. Simple but beatiful.

  56. And remember you are always changing, or at least, allow yourself that possibility.

  57. Simply beautiful!!!

  58. Man, if I ever saw anything that needed to be Fresh Pressed this is it. It left me spellbound.

    Great work.


  59. Great job Steve,, Congrats..

  60. Impressive portraits Steve.. regards

  61. Wonderful as ever. I enjoy very much seeing your posts,this is specially beautiful. Your photos have something difficult to explain by words. Thank you

  62. Wonderful, as usual!

  63. […] Check out the full set HERE. Share this:LinkedInStumbleUponFacebookTwitterMorePinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  64. We need to adorn ourselves each day as an expression of the Divine beauty within, and if we don’t feel it, as an expression of the Divine beauty in the world around us. My Godmother used to say about feeling down in the dumps, “Act as if you believe you are God’s divine expression.” My Mother would say, “Whether you believe it or not, God is Love and Beauty expressed in and through us.” This is what your beautiful photo essay and the quotes say to me this beautiful, windy, sunny day on the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon. Blessings to you Steven….your photography and this email is such a gift to so many.

  65. Beautiful faces and stories they are telling with their face lines and eyes … very nice.

  66. Reblogged this on Oxford School of Photography and commented:
    Masterful portraits by a master of photogrpahy

  67. yu in kol Says:

    The face!!! story of countles years…

  68. All of them are so beautiful in their own way! May be because they are answering to their real inside…May be “we”, the “normal people”, the “common people” loose our inner ego in our way to the acommodation to the society…

  69. Every face is a incredible paint.

  70. Caro sr Steve
    Belíssimos retratos.
    Em 1999 adquiri um livro seu ” Portraits”, venho acompanhando seu trabalho a muito tempo.
    Quando o sr esteve em São Paulo ( Brazil) a uns anos atras infelizmente não pude participar de seu Workshop.
    abraços do Brazil

  71. Haijo de Jong Says:

    Just beautiful and brilliant!

  72. Sajid Aboobaker Says:

    Stunning portraits as usual. no words to say. Great inspiring portraits for beginers like me.

  73. This is fantastic.

  74. just beautiful

  75. Sarah-Jane Says:

    Beautiful photography – the opening quote is so true! Cheers from Lagos, Nigeria

  76. Dipayan Bhattacharjee Says:

    Excellent portraiture…

  77. Stunning, stunning, stunning. Looking forward to the exhibition next year.



  79. Amazing !! Breathtaking portraits!

  80. Ida Sahle-Dorn Says:

    In all the blogs I just LOVE the words that accompany the photos,
    of course I ADORE the photos!

  81. Amazing. Utterly amazing.

  82. Reblogged this on ngomongngomongngaco and commented:
    beauty all around

  83. Thank you for these images. They’re a real portal through space and time. If more people would see them, maybe they wouldn’t hate each other so much.


  84. Words fail me. Congratulations on another stunning presentation. Z

  85. Anonymous Says:

    absolutely amazing…i saw Africa place, congratu Wiola

  86. amazing collection of portraits from the Master…

  87. Melissa Stark Says:

    Lovely and Brilliant! Each image makes you want to know the story of the person’s life. I love your work! Thank you for sharing!

  88. Wonderful portraits! Congrats and hello from Slovakia!

  89. Great job…

  90. marcelosalvador Says:

    Truly beautiful portraits! Amazing…

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