Posts tagged ‘Steve McCurry’
We just got our office copies of the March/April issue, so those of you who live in the Mid-Atlantic states should be receiving yours shortly. I can guarantee it’ll stand out in your mailbox because of the cover–a stunning photo of a Rabari Indian girl, one of the images on the world’s last roll of Kodachrome film shot by Steve McCurry ’74. It reminded all of us of of McCurry’s famous Afghan girl photo.
Inside, you’ll find more McCurry photos from that last roll of Kodachrome, a profile of Bobby Braun ’87, who as NASA’s newly named chief technologist is responsible for trying to rejuvenate innovation in the space agency, and a piece on women’s volleyball coach Russ Rose, who just led the Nittany Lions to their fourth consecutive NCAA title.
The Rose piece was particularly fun for Ryan Jones, the other senior editor, and me. We talked to players, coaches, even Rose’s wife, trying to figure out exactly what makes him such a great coach. Both of us knew Rose is a character, so we weren’t surprised when every interview started with some version of this: “Wow, I’m not sure I can tell you the best Russ Rose stories.” Even with that caveat, I laughed so hard when I talked with Bonnie Bremner Pettigrew ’00 that our class notes editor, Julie Nelson, peeked into my office to see what was going on.
“Oh my God,” Pettigrew said at one point, “if you find out what makes him tick, you’ve got to let me know.”
We think we did. Check out the story, and let us know what you think.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
But we’re doing a photo essay on famed photographer Steve McCurry ’74 for our forthcoming March-April issue, and I was hoping I’d be able to talk to him in order to write the text that’ll accompany the piece.
You’ve probably seen some of our past photo essays with McCurry, such as the September-October 2006 cover story shown here. The occasion for our latest piece is that, when Kodak announced in 2009 that it was discontinuing production of its workhorse Kodachrome slide film, McCurry asked if he could have the honor of shooting the last roll.
McCurry used that roll to shoot images in New York City and in India, as well as a few in Parsons, Kansas, where he took that last roll to be developed. The project will be the subject of a National Geographic documentary to air in May, and we’re lucky to be able to publish a few of McCurry’s final Kodachrome images in the magazine.
McCurry is based in New York City, but good luck finding him there. He spends much of his time in Asia on various photography projects, and in fact, to interview him today I had to call him at a hotel in Myanmar, where he’s running a photography workshop. I got to talk to him for about 20 minutes, and in addition to what we’ll put in the magazine, I’ll post a condensed version of that Q&A here on the blog closer to the time the next issue comes out. Check back around the first of March.
(Which reminds me: If you’d like to get our blog in the form of a daily e-mail, just click on the “Subscribe / by e-mail” button on the upper right of this page.)
Oh, and one other thing. In the course of working with McCurry’s office in New York on this piece, I learned about a nonprofit organization he started called ImagineAsia, which aims to help schoolchildren in Afghanistan. Looks like they’re doing some very good work.
Tina Hay, editor
The work of acclaimed photojournalist Steve McCurry ’74 is currently the subject of a four-month retrospective at the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery in England. In a CNN.com interview timed with the exhibition, McCurry retells the story of his famed “Afghan Girl” photograph and offers his philosophy on the art form; the CNN piece also features a slide show of some of McCurry’s most compelling work.
You can check out more of Steve’s work and a schedule of upcoming exhibitions on his website. The Birmingham exhibition runs through Oct. 17.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
All of you photography junkies out there might like to know that Kodak entrusted their last roll of Kodachrome film to famed photographer, Steve McCurry ’74. The roll of film has already been shot by McCurry and processed by Dwayne’s Photo Service, a company based in Parsons, Kansas—the only remaining shop in the world to process Kodachrome.
McCurry told The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, in an interesting article, “It’s definitely the end of an era. [Kodachrome] has such a wonderful color palette…a poetic look, not particularly garish or cartoonish, but wonderful, true colors that were vibrant, but true to what you were shooting.”
Most of the details of what McCurry shot are unknown, but according to NPR’s The Picture Show, his first and last images are in New York City with middle images from India. When all is said and done, the final 36 shots will make their way home to the Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., where Kodak is based.
Jessie Knuth, graphic designer
Photographer Steve McCurry ’74 has a great story on his blog about one of his former photography subjects, Ali Aqa.
McCurry photographed Aqa at school in 2007 while on assignment in Afghanistan for National Geographic. The article in the magazine mentioned that Aqa had hopes of becoming a lawyer. After the story was published, many readers responded and wanted to help Aqa reach his goal. The only problem was that it was going to be a challenge to find him again.
Three years later, with the help of school officials and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, Aqa has been located. He’ll graduate from high school next year, and McCurry and others are working with local educators to help him get ready for college.
Jessie Knuth, graphic designer
At the end of the year we are all subjected to lists declaring “The Best of …” and “The Worst of …” But, since this year is the end of the aughts (isn’t there something better to call the last 10 years?) we are seeing even more lists summing up not only the year, but the decade.
Advertising Age just put out one of these very lists: Book of Tens: Best Magazine Covers of the Decade. Among the top 10 covers, you will see the work of Steve McCurry ’74. McCurry and National Geographic went back to find the Afghan girl, whose picture made him famous 17 years ago, which resulted in one of the best covers of the decade. If you would like to read more about the Afghan girl and the search itself, National Geographic has a story titled, A Life Revealed, on their Web site.
As a designer, I do believe they picked nine strong cover designs. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the Brangelina and baby cover that graced People magazine. I’m not sure if I’m going to come around on that one.
To all of my fellow art geeks out there, let me know your thoughts on the list.
Jessica Knuth, graphic designer
I don’t know how I managed to miss this, but our favorite National Geographic photographer, Steve McCurry ’74, has a new book. It’s been out since last May, in fact. It’s called The Unguarded Moment, and it sounds intriguing, from the description at Amazon.com:
In The Unguarded Moment, people go about their everyday business in extraordinary circumstances and settings, like the young tea vendor wading through the waist-deep monsoon waters in India, the fishermen casting their nets in the Niger river in Mali’s Sahel Desert and the boy working in a candy factory in Kabul, Afghanistan. … There are children paying close attention to their teachers in school rooms in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as five young monks happily playing with computer games at a monastery in India, just like any other boys their age would.
Tina Hay, editor
Photographer Steve McCurry ’74 was in Kenya a few days ago, and almost got hauled off to jail for taking a picture of a Kodak sign on a building. You can read the tale on his blog.
Tina Hay, editor
I just learned that our favorite photographer, Steve McCurry ’74, has a blog. Looks like he’s been doing it since May. He talks about the stories behind some of his photos, explains his thought process, and offers advice to budding photographers. On the latter subject, he says, “When people ask me how they can become a photographer, I almost never mention cameras, lenses, or technique. I say, ‘If you want to be a photographer, first leave home.’” He goes on to explain the importance of exposing yourself to new places and experiences.
Among other things, I learned from reading his blog that some of his images were projected at the Staples Center during Michael Jackson’s memorial service. Pretty cool.
Tina Hay, editor
One of the nice things about living in a college town: A couple of Saturdays ago I had a chance to take a free, three-hour workshop on portrait photography from a faculty member in Penn State’s School of Visual Arts.
The Palmer Museum of Art offered the workshop in conjunction with the Steve McCurry exhibition, which is pretty much portrait photography at its finest. There were about 15 of us, plus the instructor, Lonnie Graham, who spent about half the time talking about McCurry’s work and the other half showing us his own approach to shooting portraits.
It’s impossible to summarize a three-hour workshop in a short blog posting, so I’ll just show you a couple of photos from it and give you the high points.
He said he wanted to “demystify” McCurry’s work a bit, so he had us stroll around the gallery and look at McCurry’s portraits a while, then we gathered again and he talked about things like shallow depth of field and making sure you’re at the subject’s eye level—as well as more esoteric concepts like “a profound fascination with these levels of humanity.”
One thing that stood out for me was a discussion about the fact that not all of McCurry’s images are tack-sharp. Seeing them blown up that big, and being able to get nose-to-nose with them, you discover that in some cases the subject maybe moved ever so slightly at the moment McCurry shot the photo. It was interesting for me to realize that a gorgeous close-up of a human face can be a world-class piece of artistry in spite of being a tiny bit out of focus.
The way Lonnie Graham explained it was this: “Of course you want it sharp, but you’re shooting in low-light conditions, with no depth of field. And no matter how much you hold your breath, you can’t stop your heart from beating.” After all, he said, “we’re just big bags of water.”
For the second half of the workshop, we went outside, and Graham demonstrated his own approach to portraiture—which, I think it’s safe to say, was unlike anything we’d ever seen. He borrowed one of the participants from the workshop as his subject, positioned him where he wanted him, and proceeded to pull all kinds of old-fashioned-looking equipment out of his bag: a gigantic tripod, a large-format field camera complete with the accordion-style bellows, a black cloth to drape over his head while he looked through the viewfinder, the whole bit.
He took out a pack of white powder—sodium sulfite, he explained—and mixed it with a bottle of spring water, pouring the resulting solution into a Rubbermaid food-storage container. He opened a pack of 4″x5″ Polaroid black-and-white film (Polaroid no longer makes it, though you can get it on eBay) and stuck one of the pieces of film in the camera. After he shot the image, he pulled the film back out, peeled the negative away from the print, and stuck the negative in the sodium sulfite solution to preserve it. He gave the print to the guy whose portrait he had just shot.
Graham swears by this method, and has used it all over the world. He has an exhibition in San Francisco right now based on this kind of portraiture. We found the whole thing very fascinating. But I think one participant summed it up best when she looked at the entire production out there on the plaza outside the Palmer and said, to no one in particular, “I’m never going back to film.”
Tina Hay, editor