National Geographic Find #2

The Afghan Girl

If you read my last post, you will know that I found a pile of old National Geographic magazines over the holidays. Included in this collection was the edition from June 1985. The cover of this copy is arguably the most famous Nat Geo picture ever published and is an iconic documentary photograph. As a Street Photographer, this is a hugely inspiring photograph, and one that keeps me striving for the perfect portrait.


Photo by Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

The Afghan girl is an image taken by Steve McCurry in 1984 while on assignment in Afghanistan. For the geeks among you, it was taken on a Nikon Fm2 camera using slide film. I find it strange that McCurry used a 105mm lens, this focal length is often used for portraits, but seems an unusual choice for a journalist. McCurry apparently had very little time to take the picture, and the girl was angry at having her photo taken. She stopped just long enough for the portrait following instructions from her teacher, who believed it could raise awareness of the refugees’ plight.

Sharbat Gula

The name of ‘The Afghan Girl’ is Sharbat Gula. McCurry has recently tracked her down. Today’s images are evidence of the hard life she has led. There is a wealth of information out there if you want to find out more.

Afghan Girl

Photo by Steve McCurry

So What Chris?

There are links between Street, Documentary and Journalistic photography. As a photographer, I seek people whose faces will create a beautiful portrait. Often these images are of people who have experienced difficulty, with hardships etched into their faces, or their innocence contrasting with their surroundings. McCurry went back and had the opportunity to help this woman, and at the time his photography highlighted the plight of the Afghan people. As the year draws to a close, I once again to ask myself how our photography can help make the world a better place?

Have a great New Year and thanks for all your support in 2017. It means a lot that some people are reading my rambles, as well as enjoying the photos I take. Lets make 2018 the best year ever!

Keep Clicking, Chris

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More on McCurry?   Click Here

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2 Comments on “National Geographic Find #2

  1. Great find and a great post about Steve McCurry. I admire him so much! Just before Christmas I treated myself to a signed print of him from his India train station series that was offered by Magnum. Have a creative and happy 2018! Marcus


    • Those signed prints are a bargain. I purchased a square print of a protester at Tiananmen Square by Stuart Franklin. A McCurry print would be quite tempting! I think the grief he has received recently is quite unfair.

      Liked by 1 person

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