A New book on Steve McCurry. Steve McCurry: A Life in Pictures

Source: Steve McCurry via Feature Shoot: 40 Years of Remarkable Photos by Steve McCurry

Source: India, 1993 © Steve McCurry via Feature Shoot: 40 Years of Remarkable Photos by Steve McCurry

According to the article:

Bonnie McCurry has shared many long-distance phone calls with her brother Steve without knowing when they’d next speak. She saw him grow up in the wake of their mother’s death, and she remembers things about their childhood he was too young to understand. More than once, as he was busy documenting life on the other side of the world, she worried he’d been killed in the field. Now, Bonnie McCurry helps tell the story of one of the world’s most influential photographers in their new book Steve McCurry: A Life in Pictures, out now by Laurence King.

With words by Bonnie, 350-plus pictures by Steve, and contributions from colleagues and friends, A Life in Pictures spans four decades of work behind the camera. The detailed chapters trace Steve’s journeys around the globe to locations where he’s covered conflict, disaster, and daily life. From war in Afghanistan and Kuwait to the fall of the Berlin Wall to the attacks of 9/11 in Manhattan, McCurry has immortalized some of the most significant events of our time, and Bonnie, now the President of the McCurry Foundation, was there every step of the way, even if they were separated by thousands of miles. This book is about human history, but it’s also about the ties that bind us together.

Flash. The making of Weegee the Famous

When I think of a press photographer from the 1930s/1940s a particular image comes to mind: Huge press camera with equally massive flash; fedora; rumpled coat; possibly a cigar. This particular image was largely created by Usher Fellig – later Arthur Fellig and eventually Weegee.

According to Wikipedia:

Weegee was the pseudonym of Arthur (Usher) Fellig (June 12, 1899 – December 26, 1968), a photographer and photojournalist, known for his stark black and white street photography. Weegee worked in Manhattan, New York City’s Lower East Side, as a press photographer during the 1930s and 1940s, and he developed his signature style by following the city’s emergency services and documenting their activity. Much of his work depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death. Weegee published photographic books and also worked in cinema, initially making his own short films and later collaborating with film directors such as Jack Donohue and Stanley Kubrick.


Weegee was certainly a fascinating, if somewhat eccentric character. He was a ruthless self-promoter (hence ‘Weegee the Famous’) who wasn’t afraid to stage a scene if it suited him. For example one of his most famous photographs, The Critic was certainly a setup.

His story is also rather sad. He seemed to badly want to transcend the type of street photography for which he was renowned, but was never able to do so. Towards the end of his life he ended up playing roles in ‘nudie cutie’ exploitation films.

It’s a fascinating story and well worth reading. Should Weegee be included in the pantheon of great photographers? Some of his photographs are certainly remarkable, but I’m not sure that I can really answer this question at the moment.

Flash. The Making of Weegee the Famous. By Christopher Bonanos.

I just (re) discovered Aaron Siskind.

I’m not entirely sure how I came across Aaron Siskind, but I think it’s probably through his good friend and fellow photographer Harry Callahan I looked around and found some of Siskind’s work on the Internet. I’d heard his name, but wasn’t familiar with his work. Or so I thought. As I looked through the pictures I realized that I must have, at some point, come across his work. Why? Well, because as I look at my own photographs I can see Siskind’s influence everywhere. Not that I have consciously tried to emulate his work. Rather I think that I must have seen some of his pictures at some point and unconsciously absorbed elements into my own.

Since I felt a close connection I decided that I needed to go beyond the small images on the internet and bought this book: “Aaron Siskind. Another Photographic Reality“. There’s a useful review of the book on Photo-eye Blog so I won’t duplicate here. Suffice it to say that I really love this book.

For a useful selection of Siskind’s work see his page at the International Center of Photography.

Happy Birthday Henri

Today marks the 110th Anniversary of one of the greatest of all photographers (and a personal favorite of mine): Henri Cartier-Bresson.

It also gives me the opportunity to highlight a publication I picked up a couple of months ago at the International Center of Photography: Henri Cartier-Bresson. Interviews and Conversations 1951-1998. It contains 12 interviews with the Master. As the foreword says:

Henri Cartier-Bresson often defined himself as a visual person. “I watch, watch, watch. I understand things through my eyes.” he wrote in 1963. Throughout his life, his preferred language was the image. He did take a lot of notes during his reporting and kept a constant correspondence with his family, but in the end he wrote little about his own photographic practice…it is in fact in his interviews that Cartier-Bresson’s liveliest thinking can be found. It is the one place where the photographer has indeed not been sparing with his words.

Most of these talks have not been reissued since their publication and are therefore difficult to find. They reveal a fascinating and passionate Cartier-Bresson, who talks about his photography, comments on the state of the world, and reflects on his path. Spread over nearly half a century, his word make it possible to perceive the evolution of the photographer’s thinking: he backs down from his comments, changes his mind, sometimes contradicts himself. The image that the interviews give of Cartier-Bresson is not frozen in legend, but on the contrary, alive and kicking.