Behind the Lens


As a photographer , I am sustained by the rhythms of everyday life: the routines of herding and fishing; the chanting of prayers and the hawking of wares. Where do humans sleep? How do we feed ourselves? How do we keep warm? For me, documenting the infinitely varied ways we meet these fundamental human needs has proven to be a profound journey.

The sequence of images that follows is not tied to specific events or cultures, but instead suggestive of the vast tapestry of human experience and my chance encounters with silhouette and shadow, water and light, spire and sky. In The Unguarded Moment I wanted to create a visceral sense of the beauty and wonder I’m confronted with during my travels when the surprise of the stranger rubs against the delight of the familiar.

These frictions – between past and present, sacred and profane, the domestic and the exotic- invigorate me. My impulse is to share them, to draw a circle of stillness around them so they can touch and inspire others. “A travel book has the capacity to express a country’s heart-and perhaps the heart of the traveler too,” writes Paul Theroux, but only if it concentrates on the people in their landscape.” This is what I have tried to achieve in these pages.

When people ask me what they should do to become a photographer. I seldom mention cameras or technique. I say, “If you want to be a photographer , first leave home.” And as Paul Theroux further advises, “Go as far as you can. Become a stranger in a strange land. Acquire humility.”

In the end, I can’t imagine another way of being. My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport. Here are the results of this restless curiosity- a selection of those unguarded moments I was fortunate enough to witness.


-Steve McCurry, Photographer



Open Shutter Gallery
735 Main Ave
Durango, CO, USA

August 21 – October 1, 2009
Phone: 970.382.8355




~ by eaesthete on 08/21/09.

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