Archive for Mandalay

To Light a Fire

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2013 by stevemccurry

To learn to read is to light a fire;
every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.

– Victor Hugo


ITALY-10406    Umbria, Italy

At one magical instant  the page of a book –
that string of confused, alien ciphers–shivered into meaning. 

Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment,
whole universes opened. 

You became, irrevocably, a reader.
– Alberto Manguel

BURMA-10566 Mandalay, Burma

Everywhere I go in the world, I see young and old,
rich and poor, reading books.
Whether readers are engaged in the sacred or the secular,
they are, for a time, transported to  another world.

AFGHN-12373NF  Bamiyan, Afghanistan

We are familiar with words describing images, but not so
familiar with images describing words and the
impact reading has on our lives.

THAILAND-10147 (1)Thailand

Garrett Stewart’s book, The Look of Reading:
Book, Painting, Text, explores the relationship of

reading and art.He points out that a wide array of artists from Rembrandt to  Picasso and Cassatt
and dozens more,over the past 500 years
have painted people reading and the “look of reading” on the subjects’ faces.


RUSSIA-10075  Moscow, Russia

We read to know we are not alone.
– C.S. Lewis


A great book that comes from a great thinker
is a ship of thought, 
deep freighted with truth and beauty.
– Pablo Neruda

YEMEN-10071, Sana'a, Yemen, 1997. A man reads the Qu'ran.  Yemen

Books are the plane, and the train, and the road.
They are the destination, and the journey.
They are home.
– Anna Quindlen


I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
– Jorge Luis Borges


There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
– Emily Dickinson


SRILANKA-10087, Sri Lanka, 12/1995, Boy Reading with mother in temple.Sri Lanka

Reading is everything.
Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something,
learned something, become a better person.
Reading makes me smarter.
Reading gives me something to talk about later on…
Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.
– Nora Ephron


Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly,
into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
– Joyce Carol Oates



UNITED_ARAB_EMIRATES-10004Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.
– Joseph Addison


We invite you to download our free Portrait app
with twenty-minute video

01098_08; Rome; Italy; 10/1994, ITALY-10268

00728_128, Hazara, Afghanistan, AFGHN-13113NF3Bamiyan, Afghanistan

FRANCE-10068Lourdes, France



Grief, Grind, and Glory of Work

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2013 by stevemccurry

Last month the world heard the tragic news
that more than a thousand people working at a clothing factory in Bangladesh,
were killed when 
the factory they were working in collapsed.

Myanmar, Burma, 1994, final book_iconicBurma

The appetite for cheap clothing in the West is insatiable.
The people making the clothing  often pay the true cost of these items.
The scale of this factory in Burma is vast.
The sense that these workers are just part of an immense machine is
accentuated by 
the pink shirts they are obliged to wear.

BURMA-10221NF, Myanmar (Burma), 07/1994Burma

Labor disgraces no man;
unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor.  

– Ulysses S. Grant


Whether it is men fishing,  nuns washing dishes, miners digging beneath the earth, or 
working in the heat of a steel mill, work is universal, yet intensely personal. Millions work in order to survive, and for them,
is no debate about how to achieve a life/work balance.  

INDONESIA-10006Woman working in a field devastated by volcanic debris and flood waters.  Java, Indonesia

INDIA-10330NFShoe repair shop in India

Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work.
– Horace



Your life is a journey, not a rest.
You are travelling to the promised land, from the cradle to the grave.
The Sunday at Home, December 7th 1854

INDIA-11144, India, Bombay, 1997Mumbai, India

Gujarat, India

The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

YUGOSLAVIA-10068MKS Steelworks, Serbia


Working for long periods under extreme stressful work conditions can lead to
sudden death, a phenomenon the Japanese call karoshi. The word in China is guolaosi.

PAKISTAN-10006NFLandi Kotal, Pakistan

AFGHN-10146Bakery run by Afghan widows, Kabul, Afghanistan

Dubrovnik, Croatia, 1989Croatia

Many find their identity in the work they do. Some enjoy intense satisfaction in their work.
For others, the line between work and play is hard to find.

Tibetans, 07/2001, final book_iconicIndia

INDIA-10679NF2, Bombay, India, 09/1993. Textiles,
           Mumbai, India

A suger cane farmer stand in his field in Luzon, Philippines, 1985Sugar cane farmer, Philippines

Everything yields to diligence.
– Thomas Jefferson

BRAZIL-10044NF8, Brazil, Latin America, Lavazza, 08/2010Drying coffee beans, Brazil

If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or
Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of
heaven and Earth will pause to say, Here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.  
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

KASHMIR-10016Flower Seller, Dal Lake, Kashmir

Please follow us on Tumblr

Please download our free app:

The Lives We Live

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2012 by stevemccurry

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
– Flora Whittemore


Maimana, Afghanistan

Since the beginning of time, doors have
symbolized both great opportunities and thwarted dreams.


Varanasi, India

Morocco-10024; 00541_07; Morocco; 03/1988


The open door is a metaphor for new life, a passage
from one stage of life to another, and metamorphosis.
Closed doors represent rejection and exclusion.



The Door
Too little has been said
Of the door,
its one face turned to the night’s
and its other
To the shift and glisten of firelight.


Bamiyan, Afghanistan

For doors are both frame and monument
To our spent time,
And too little
Has been said of our
coming through and leaving by them.
– Charles Tomlinson







A door just opened on a street–
I, lost, was passing by–
An instant’s width of warmth disclosed
And wealth, and company.

The door as sudden shut, and I,
I, lost, was passing by,–
Lost doubly, but by contrast most,
Enlightening misery.
– Emily Dickinson


Kabul, Afghanistan


Mingun Pagoda, near Mandalay, Burma/Myanmar


West Kabul, Afghanistan




Los Angeles, United States

The door swings open:
O god of hinges,
god of long voyages,
you have kept faith.
It’s dark in there.
You confine yourself to the darkness
You step in.
The door swings closed.
– Margaret Atwood


Kabul, Afghanistan


Bamiyan, Afghanistan


Bombay/Mumbai, India


Kabul, Afghanistan


Dhaka, Bangladesh


Monastery at Rolous, Cambodia



The Door

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden, or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye, or the picture of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if nothing is there,
go and open the door.

At least there’ll be a draught.
– Miroslav Holub
translated from the Czech by Ian Milner





The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and
comfort – the opening, terror.
Conversely, the closing of a door can be a sad and final thing –
the opening a wonderfully joyous moment.
– Andy Rooney

Children at Work

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2011 by stevemccurry

AFRICA-10237The Sahel, Africa

In developing countries one in six children from 5 to 14 years old is involved in child labor.

INDIA-10207Ship-breaking yard, Mumbai, India

Shoepolisher, Tibetans, 12/2000, final book_iconicLhasa, Tibet

In the least developed countries, 30 percent of all children are engaged in child labor.

Marpha, Nepal, 1998Marpha, Nepal

Worldwide, 126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.

AFGHN-13034NFKabul, Afghanistan

The highest proportion of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa, where 26 percent of children (49 million) are involved in work.

Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-13002Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12258-(1)Kandahar, Afghanistan

An estimated 1.2 million children — both boys and girls — are trafficked each year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed conflict or commercial sex work.

_SM13419, Myanmar, Burma, 02/2011, BURMA-10283Mandalay, Myanmar/ Burma

AFGHN-10025Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12925Bamiyan, Afghanistan 

“Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together,  and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” –  Grace Abbott


AFGHN-12209Pul i Khumri, Afghanistan

Cigarette Vendor, Kabul Survey Trip, 05/2002 Kabul, Afghanistan

AFGHN-12243Pul i Khumri, Afghanistan

Charikar, Afghanistan, 2002

 ImagineAsia’s Storybook Project for Afghan Children

The mission of ImagineAsia, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is to work in partnership with local community leaders and regional NGO’s to help students in Afghan communities receive fundamental educational materials and resources. 

IA  has started to translate Aesop’s fables into Dari for the children of Afghanistan who have never had a book of their own.  Translated and illustrated by volunteers, these stories will reach families in remote areas of the country.

For thousands of years the fables have revealed universal truths through simple allegories.  The stories often use animals to  teach lessons that are easily understood by people of all ages.

Here are some sample pages:

The Lion and the Mouse –  illustrated by Jason Melcher

 The Boy Who Cried Wolf – illustrated by Kate Raines

Pitcher and the Crow –  illustrated by Lois Andersen

An Afghan Folktale – The Silver on the Hearth – illustrated by Kate Harrold

Tortoise and Hare –  illustrated by Kate Harrold

The Donkey and its Purchaser – illustrated by Kate Harrold

The Sun and the Wind – illustrated by Annie Zimmerman

 The Fox and the Goat – illustrated by Jason Melcher


Unpublished, Unseen 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2010 by stevemccurry

Varanasi, India, 2010


Over the past thirty years, I have taken nearly a million pictures.   Many of them have been published in my books, in magazines, and seen in my exhibitions, but a majority have never been seen.  Here are a few of those unseen pictures that I have taken in the past few months.


India, 2010



Mandalay, Burma 2010


Burma 2010

Shwedagon, Pagoda, Burma, Myanmar, Rangoon, Yangon, February, 2010.

Mandalay, Burma, February, 2010


Burma, 2010



Burma, 2010

Steve McCurry Hasselblad

Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2010


Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2010

The Path to Buddha

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2009 by stevemccurry

I am often asked about which countries I enjoy photographing the most.  That’s very hard to answer, but I do enjoy going back again and again to Buddhist countries, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bhutan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Burma.


Buddha statue in Mandalay, Burma, 2008


Monk at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet, 2000

The ethics and the aesthetics of Buddhism are melded in a unique way. The vivid color of robes and sacred places contrast with the monochromatic tradition I grew up with.


Young monks play with computer games in Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, India, 2001

Every time I have visited a Buddhist monastery, I have seen a playfulness among the monks, a joy in the way they conduct themselves and the way they interact with each other.

Young nun, Rangoon, BURMA-10013NF2, Burma/Myanmar, 1994

Young nun, Rangoon, Burma, 1994


Monks in the Rain, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 1999


A monk studies Buddhist scripture in the late afternoon at a monastery in Aranyaprathet, Thailand, 1996

As I photographed the picture of the monk and the cat in a monastery in Thailand, it occured to me that all the qualities that I observed – contemplation, serenity, meditation – are ones that are antithetical to the hard-charging, ladder-climbing Western culture.


Young monks study Buddhist scripture at a monastery in Litang, Kham, Tibet, 1999


Pilgrim praying at the Buddhist academy of Larung Gar, near Serthar, Kham, Tibet, 2001

The Monks have a way of taking something we could consider mundane, and transform it into something sacred.


Candles are a form of offering at the Tibetan Prayer Festival, during which thousands are lit under the Bodi tree. Bodh Gaya, India, 2000

Monasteries have always been places of refuge for people and animals who have no other place to go.  Monks will share whatever they have, no matter how small.


Woman meditates in Bagan monastery, Burma, 2008

Even though they get merits for helping people in need, one never has the impression that they do it for any other reason other than their good nature, dedication, and hospitality.

Quotations from the Buddha:

“Teach this triple truth to all:  A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”

“In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36,095 other followers