Power of Play



It is a happy talent to know how to play.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson



Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a
tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.
– Henri Matisse



The true object of all human life is play.
– G. K. Chesterton












Men do not quit playing because they grow old;
they grow old because they quit playing.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.






Play is the exultation of the possible.
– Martin Buber



A child loves his play, not because it’s easy,
but because it’s hard.
– Benjamin Spock



People tend to forget that play is serious.
– David Hockney






In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior.
In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.
– Lev Vygotsky



When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to
move beyond the bounds of reality.

A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet.
A small child can be a superhero.
– Fred Rogers









Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play;
music and dancing were pure play….
We have to conclude, therefore,

that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played…
– Johan Huizinga






Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.
– Diane Ackerman 




00253_10, YEMEN-10058NF, Yemen, 1997


Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives,
can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities,
and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world
where everyone is an equal and valued participant.
– Patricia G. Ramsey





Play is the highest form of research.
– attributed to Albert Einstein




_SM15729_adj, Cuba, 2010, CUBA-00004


Sometimes you have to drop the rake and play in the leaves.
– Douglas V’Soske

BURMA-10280; Mandalay; Burma; 02/2011final print_MACRO



Varanasi, India, 2010



Steve’s New Portrait App Available Now:


134 Responses to “Power of Play”

  1. […] of my favorite photographers to follow, Steve McCurry, has a beautiful photo essay showing play from both children and adults along with some inspiring […]

  2. […] Originally posted on Steve McCurry’s Blog: […]

  3. I do believe in playing. But like most people my age, I don’t practice enough. Fantastic photos.

  4. beautiful… can´t find words
    thank you for sharing

  5. Anonymous Says:


  6. Reblogged this on sustainAble thinking and commented:
    Life is a song – sing it.
    Life is a game – play it.
    Life is a challenge – meet it.
    Life is a dream – realize it.
    Life is a sacrifice – offer it.
    Life is love – enjoy it.

  7. Reblogged this on FeintRules and commented:
    These moments are all captured exceptionally by Steve McCurry. Inspiration at its finest.

  8. Your photos take us with you on your journey. Thanks for sharing, they tell such a story.

  9. magellanicpenguin Says:

    Reblogged this on Aurora Rebecca and commented:
    Play. It always comes back to play for me. I love how Steve McCurry adds quotes alongside his photographs, especially these ones. My heart responds.

  10. Helena Kling Says:

    You have captured the essence of play in a way I have never before seen

  11. Big fan of your work!:)

  12. What an uplifting post!

  13. Steve, great job!!!! You have to come back to add up a few Russian snapshots)) warm regards from Moscow, irina

  14. Loved it. Absolutely.

  15. jiju atheena Says:

    It is just amazing how you always manage to catch the moment .Absolutely fantastic i love ur pictures

  16. Play is an activity that is joyful, exciting, and enriching. Play makes a person smile. A smile sometimes creates a laugh. A laugh is an instant vacation.

  17. Loved it!!

  18. Kathy Wong Says:

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful quotes! Play is everywhere. It is part of human.

  19. Snap Pictures Says:

    powerful. love it

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Really great blog!

  21. Anonymous Says:

    awesome post thanks!

  22. Love the quotes…and how beautifully the photos complimented them. Just wanted you to know that jbw0231 came to my blog and shared your link as one of her favorite blogs to visit. I completely understand why she chose you.:-)

  23. healthcoachpenny Says:

    Love this!!!!!!

  24. That is simply awesome! I’m enchanted with the work of McCurry!

  25. […] beautiful post from photographer Steve McCurry called The Power of Play amply illustrates that very thing, in action, in photos and […]

  26. Anonymous Says:


  27. Anonymous Says:

    Absolutely fantastic!

  28. juana loayza Says:

    El juego es la llave secreta para lograr aprender/enseñar
    El juego hace más fácel, dulce y significativo todo, aún el amor
    El juego libera el alma del sufrimiento y del hambre
    El juego hace de la vida el milagro que es

  29. Tammy L. Harrow- Saint Augustine, FL Says:

    Inspiring and beautiful as always. Someday, I would be happy to travel to half the places you have been.

  30. Thank you Steve, your images are a source of inspiration to us all

  31. Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.

  32. Wow! I love your pictures! Great job!

  33. Play.. My favourite past time.

  34. Georgianna Duarte Says:

    Amazing. The joy of play is truly beyond words. I have smiled…for so long watching this again and again…that I want to leave this crazy lap…and go play.

  35. Reblogged this on Annemarie Steen and commented:
    Wonderful pictures in Steve McCurry’s blog of people Playing. Love t!

  36. […] Ethiopia It is a happy talent to know how to play. – Ralph Waldo Emerson Fiji Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of …  […]

  37. Reblogged this on Mental Flowers and commented:
    What a beautiful collection of photos capturing people playing around the world. Happy Friday, go play!:)

  38. Beautiful photos!!!!!

  39. redgalera17 Says:

    Reblogged this on redgalera17.

  40. Reblogged this on invisible (no longer) and commented:
    This is beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me how amazing a child’s smile is.

  41. Reblogged this on Filosofia de vida and commented:
    Power of play

  42. Colorfull Says:

    Amazing:) wow

  43. Anonymous Says:

    Incredibly awesome.

  44. Reblogged this on MECASOENSORIA and commented:
    Qué sonrisas.

  45. Joshua Koepp Says:

    Reblogged this on Fiddlehouse Dad and commented:
    Play is one of my main topics, and this is a great series of photos and quotes (not to mention that it share the title of my best workshop).

  46. Your images are just so beautiful and depict the child in such a wonderfull form where you can see the soul of childhood. I am a pro child photographer who believe very much in portraying the child as you did. The quotes are perfect for each single of them. It is really inspiring to start my day. My question , would they be available in a book so I can purchase. Thank you for making my thursday so much brighter!

  47. Reblogged this on black board, white chalk and commented:
    An powerful tribute to the need for play in the lives of children. Thank you Steve McCurry.

  48. Anonymous Says:

    Beautiful quotes and extraordinary pictures. Sad to see so few girls playing and women writing about it …

  49. I love your picture. They are so full of live and love for people and places all around the world.

  50. Inspiring and beautiful.

  51. Reblogged this on MikeGreenslade's Blog and commented:
    If you ever need inspiration to continue making images then Steve McCurry is always a good place to start …………

  52. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for posting these. Thanks to my friends for adding it to FB so I could see them this page is now in my fave list. Looking at these photos just proves to me what I’ve always known PLAY is fundamental to everyones well being thank you.

  53. Wonderful photographs and insightful quotes. Thanks!

  54. […] you’ve had all of your thoughts provoked by photographer Steve McCurry’s post Power of Play, turn off all of your electronic gadgets and go outside to play with your family and […]

  55. Gracias por compartir esas fotos increíbles!

  56. Very nice… as always!

  57. Reblogged this on PlayGroundology and commented:
    Steve McCurry is there when play erupts, is in full exuberant swing. These joyous images bear witness to play’s universal beat. By nature it shines a bright light wherever it is allowed to flourish.

  58. Always giving us such beautiful images

    Thanks Steve

  59. […] Ethiopia It is a happy talent to know how to play. – Ralph Waldo Emerson Fiji Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of …  […]

  60. […] Ethiopia It is a happy talent to know how to play. – Ralph Waldo Emerson Fiji Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of …  […]

  61. Wow ! Great pictures !

  62. They’re excellent. Made me smile and lifted my spirits and hope.

  63. Astounding pictures, astounding words. As ever.

  64. Esta es una serie de fotografias que hace que uno volver a tener esperanzas en la humanidad y olvidarse por un instante de la situación del mundo. Además muestra que se puede jugar tan sólo con la imaginación. Gracias.

    This is a serie of photographs that makes you regain hope in humanity and forget for a moment the state of the world. It also shows that you can play with the imagination only. Thank you.

  65. Fantastico come sempre!.Un grande artista della fotografia.Grazie

  66. nobody does it like you.

  67. Reblogged this on Ideas_R_Bulletproof and commented:
    Steve McCurry shows the similarity and contrasts of culture around the world in this collection of photos “Power of Play”

  68. Dear Mr McCurry,
    I think a lot of our children from the so-called “First World” should be here just looking at your pictures…They will see, and may be think about, how children from Mali, Yemen, Mauritania…are able to create a wonderful world out of nothing, just with the power of their imagination…And imagination should the the last treasure to loose….Thanks for the pictures! (as always!:) )

  69. Wonderful sentiment! . . . As always, love your photos and accompanying captions. Very inspiring!

  70. Reblogged this on mymotionpicture and commented:
    When bruised knees and restless afternoons were closer to our soul and dusty challenges made us smile!

  71. Anna Maria Says:

    Stunning work…

  72. It is just amazing how you always manage to catch the moment. Superb again.

  73. Such beautiful and powerfully delicate imagery.

  74. Fantastic series of work again… Love every single photograph…

  75. Powerful and Playful set “Power of Play”. Great Photographs!

  76. marching of the joy…:)
    love this, Mr. Steve! x

  77. thank you for the inspiration…

  78. Reblogged this on Ask Amma and commented:
    Serendipity! A gift from Steve McCurry for our series on Play!

  79. Reblogged this on Small Circle Big Circle and commented:
    With infinite gratitude for the incredible work of Steve McCurry

  80. Anonymous Says:

    He has the most stunning work. He is subject of my paper and report for my photography class tomorrow evening at college. Jerri Myers

  81. Nahan François Says:

    Always, you photos are superbe …

  82. I love your photos so much; I could spend hours studying them. What makes them so perfect? A great eye, being in the right place at the right time, having a great camera and great photography skills. All of the above, I assume. And maybe a bit of luck? Whatever it is, Steve, I’m bowled over and inspired by your take on the world! ~ Cathy

  83. Anonymous Says:

    Very good

  84. Wonderful work as always Steve!

  85. […] It is a happy talent to know how to play. – Ralph Waldo Emerson  […]

  86. Stunning photos from someone who knows how to play!

  87. Chelsea Taylor Says:

    Steve’s work from is simply outstanding.

    Chelsea Dillon-Miller Taylor

  88. It’s beautiful how you capture beauty in every corner of the world. This is inspiring. I need to play.

  89. Lesleigh Ann Says:

    Thank you so very much Steve! These are some of my favorites… brought back memories of my youth!

  90. Connie Jensen Says:

    Omgoodness Steve, this may just be one of my favorites of yours! Dynamic, these images cross borders…cross cultures…i love them all! Thank you thank you! Best regards Connie Fisher Jensen Retired architect…:)

    _______________________________ Sent through space from a Droid 2

  91. Thank you for reminding me to take a breath and play. The look of delight on the children’s faces makes me want to drop all my busy plans and go and do something I enjoy- i am now going to the beach! heart felt thanks

  92. Amazing and inspiring … thanks for posting

  93. gorgeous shots..

  94. Love this post…right down to Ralph Waldo Emerson who’s my hero.

  95. Reblogged this on Welcome to Sharp&Clever and commented:
    Great Pix and Intelligent Quotes

  96. Just Great by Pix and Quotes…

  97. Brilliant! Inspirational for my own photography and my role as Head of the Magic Bus Centre for learning & Development here in India! Thanks, Steve

  98. Thank you for this! It was such fun to look at.

  99. Beatiful pictures, captivating stories. I particularly liked the shot from Fuji.

  100. Fantastic set of photos.

  101. I can’t never get tired of admiring your stunning pictures, Steve. I’ve been constantly forwarding your new posts to my friends, a thing I don’t do lightly. Your work defines what any social statement about how we live today should be about: a combination of compassion, denouncement, indignation, poetry, and eloquence, and that, of course, is a poor attempt to describe what your images do with so much more simplicity and power. Congrats. We all take a ride around the world with your pics and come back better human beings. Thank you.

  102. Pam Oken-Wright Says:

    Exquisite! For us, with our four and five year olds, play is that place where imagination and intellect meet…the place where the mind is at its best. Thank you for these posts!

  103. It is a beautiful display of imaginative children ,whose imagination can soar beyond the realm of adults.These are awesome photographs.Thanks a bunch for your post.

  104. M Bradford Says:

    Beautiful! I wish there we a few more photos of girls though.:)

  105. A great reminder to all of us to play more. Thanks for the evocative images.

  106. Stunning photo set! Food for the soul!:)

  107. The colours of this dark winter’s evening suddenly brightened.

  108. I was lamenting to my (almost adult) students the other day that they just don’t “play”—explore, be creative, experiment, try new ideas, learn how to fail well, discover— enough. They looked at me as if I were crazy.
    Your images are inspirational.

  109. Reblogged this on Gooseyanne's Blog and commented:
    Just go full screen – sit back and enjoy these marvellous photographs from Steve McCurry.

  110. Sent from my iPhone Steve Barbour

  111. As ever – you have made my day and lifted my soul with your beautiful photographs – thank you.

  112. enjoyed the amazing photos of children and people in light-hearted moments

  113. Another top collection

  114. Wonderful photos and text Thank you so much

  115. Love this post. We really are just one small world trying to make the best of what we have. Stunning photos.

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