Steve McCurry, Monks Pray at Golden Rock

Documentary photographer Steve McCurry, who brought the world the first images of the longstanding conflict in Afghanistan, is showcasing his work in a major exhibition at The Sheldon that opens today.

The Sheldon Art Galleries presents “Steve McCurry: The Importance of Elsewhere,” from Oct. 6 to Feb. 3, 2018, in the Gallery of Photography.

Steve McCurry’s Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl

Considered to be one of the most important voices in contemporary photography, McCurry’s strikingly vivid images have appeared on scores of magazine and book covers, been the subject of more than a dozen published monographs, and been featured in exhibitions around the world. The 37 photographs—some of them large-scale 30 x 40” images like the iconic “Afghan Girl” photograph featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985—were taken in Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, India, Japan, Kashmir, Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tibet and Yemen.

Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before going on to work for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, McCurry made his first of what would become many trips to India. Traveling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera. It was after several months of travel that he found himself crossing the border into Pakistan. There, he met a group of refugees from Afghanistan, who smuggled him across the border into their country, just as the Russian Invasion was closing the country to all western journalists. Emerging in traditional dress, with full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahedeen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead. Since then, McCurry has gone on to create stunning images of six continents and countless countries. His work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike—yet always retains the human element that made his celebrated image of the Afghan Girl so powerful.

McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the National Press Photographers Award, and an unprecedented four first-prize awards from the World Press Photo contest. The Minister of French Culture has also appointed McCurry a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters and most recently, the Royal Photographic Society in London awarded McCurry the Centenary Medal for Lifetime Achievement. McCurry has published books, including The Imperial Way (1985), Monsoon (1988), Portraits (1999), South Southeast (2000), Sanctuary (2002), The Path to Buddha: A Tibetan Pilgrimage (2003), Steve McCurry (2005), Looking East (2006), In the Shadow of Mountains (2007), The Unguarded Moment (2009), The Iconic Photographs (2011) and Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs (2013).

Steve McCurry, Agra Fort Train Station