Interview with photographer Steve McCurry

From New Internationalist Easier English Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Interview with photographer Steve McCurry

US photographer Steve McCurry took the well-known photo in 1984 of the green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’. He speaks to Graeme Green about America, human nature and if the world has gone mad.

You have reported on complex problems around the world for 40 years. Do you think the world is going mad now?

It doesn’t seem to be getting much better but I think we’re making progress. There seems to be more awareness but not so much action. Some people care about climate change, for example, but most people don’t.

Have you tried to get work in other countries so you can be away from the US and Trump?

No – that doesn’t affect my work. But I think most people have problems with Trump. I don’t think it’s right for the President to be racist or to question Barack Obama’s citizenship or place of birth. It’s not acceptable. But a lot of people don’t care. That’s the world we live in.

Your new book, Afghanistan, has photos from forty years. Why is that country so important to you?

I went to Afghanistan many times and it is still important to me. The story changes all the time, with the Russians, the Taliban, the Americans... The amazing thing is that no-one seems to learn from the past. People try to change things, but it stays the same. It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic, many people die and thousands of dollars are wasted (that could be used for health and education).

Are you surprised the country still has so many problems, 40 years later?

I think Afghanistan should be able to run their own government and society by now. But there are many people in the world who try to influence them: India, Pakistan, China, Russia, the US... Everyone is trying to get part of the country. This is the way the world works. And many Afghan governments also have some responsibility. If someone offers you lots of money, you don’t have to take it and be influenced. But this is human nature.

Have you been surprised by the poor response from Aung San Suu Kyi and the international community to the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar?

This is how the world works. If you’re Palestinian and you feel you have a right to land, and other forces work against that, you have a problem. If you’re Mexican and you think that California or Arizona have been stolen from you or you’re [an indigenous] American and you feel the Americans broke all the treaties they signed and there needs to be some justice, good luck!

There’s a long list of injustices, and the Rohingya are simply one more.

You’re working on a new book on animals, not people. Is this a new direction?

Not really... I was just looking at the animals I’ve photographed in my career and thought they would make a good book. It’s mostly domesticated and working animals, such as elephants working in forests in [Myanmar] or stray dogs and a couple of monkeys in other places. It’s about animals in the world of humans.

It is as exciting to photograph animals as it is to photograph people?

Yes. Everything excites me. A crack in the road excites me. Graffiti. Clouds. I just think everything in the world is fascinating and we should look at it.

Steve McCurry’s book Afghanistan is out now (Taschen). His book on animals is expected to be released later this year. His website is Graeme Green is a photographer and journalist. His website is: