Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs

Steve McCurry.. Phaidon, $59.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-7148-6462-4

Photographer McCurry has created some of the most empathetic portraits in memory—including the iconic National Geographic cover of the Afghan girl—yet the latest book on his prolific career fails to provide insight into the man himself. Broken into chapters ranging from specific trips, like a rail journey across India, to long-term interests like Buddhism, the text covers vast swathes of political history and relates anecdotes from McCurry's travels, but through the voice of an anonymous writer. The writer relates McCurry's adventures in an overly descriptive manner, giving detailed analysis to the photographs and repeatedly reminding the reader of McCurry's compassion as a documentary photographer, as a result overwhelming McCurry's own voice. The few quotes from McCurry are a breath of fresh air in an otherwise didactic text. Archival material from McCurry's travels, such as replications of Indian rail stubs, passport pages, itineraries and to-do lists, mostly serve to create a scrapbook effect. Die-hard fans of McCurry will find these stories of biographical interest but photographers will be disappointed at what little attention is given to technique. The stunning photo plates reproduced in this volume are McCurry's best advocates, proving this to be a case in which pictures speak more than words. (Sept.)
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