Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Influencers – Portraits, Steve McCurry

I would think that for any photographer having your first book published is a major, major big deal – I know it is for me. With my new book starting to hit the stores I know I have been thinking a lot about the books that were a big influence on me, and also had a direct effect on the decisions I made about how I wanted my book to be created. So today and tomorrow I thought I would try something different and share with you a few of the books that have had the biggest influence on my work.

One of the first and most important photography books I ever bought was this book: Portraits by Steve McCurry. I love the dignity in which he shoots such a wide range of people and cultures. I love the intimacy and connection that you feel with his subjects. I also thought that the concept of his lifestyle (traveling around the world alone taking pictures of whoever you found interesting) was so romantic. I never dreamed when I bought this book that I would end up creating my own version of that lifestyle. To learn more about Steve McCurry check out his website and his fantastic new blog.

The other, more literal way that the book


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  1. Style Scanner

    September 1, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Steve McCurry's website is gorgeous, takes a while to load but well worth it!

  2. The Photodiarist

    September 1, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I love Steve McCurry as well. He has a fantastic new book out called "The Unguarded Moment". I also learned this weekend that he hosts workshops both in New York and in places around the world (India and Myanmar are the two most recent). I think that you can find the workshops by going to his site. His blog is also fantastic! Nice of you to give props!

    PS: Your book is on my desk as we speak. I love it. I am sure there will be a sequel.

  3. doubleb

    September 1, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I picked up the book last week and it has been a constant travel companion ever since, I cannot seem to put it down. I love that I can just throw it in my briefcase and have something to look at for a few minutes while I wait for my next appointment or eat lunch on the run.

    I also love that I recognize so many of the images from the Blog over the years and can remember exactly what I thought of them the first time I saw them and how they impacted me at that point in time. Thanks for a wonderful collection of work.


  4. TIANA

    September 1, 2009 at 10:20 am

    it's amazing how "afghan girl" is still so recognizable, with reason. her piercing eyes make me shiver.


  5. Ashley

    September 1, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I've already been through your book twice and I just received it in the mail yesterday! So inspiring, I love it! Congratulations.


  6. Crystal

    September 1, 2009 at 10:25 am

    i remember flipping through that book years ago and how he explains that the girl on the cover is someone he found somewhere in the middle east? ugh or eastern europe (my memory is failing me) after a few years of not being there. and how it was incredible that he found her again. that story and obviously that photograph was one of the reasons i had wanted to work for national geogrpahic when i was younger.

    not so much the case now, but that photo did impact me. her eyes..

  7. pRiyA

    September 1, 2009 at 10:29 am

    thank you so much for the link to steve mccurry's blog!

  8. fashionaddict

    September 1, 2009 at 10:38 am

    i've long admired steve mccurry's work, but reading his words on his blog is turning me into a true fan. thanks for highlighting it!

  9. Couture Cookie

    September 1, 2009 at 10:41 am

    When I first came across this book once in a book store, that amazing cover image definitely caught my interest! The fact that it fits in my bag was one of the reasons I ended up buying it. :)

  10. TheMinx

    September 1, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I love this book, I bought it for my mother who is a photographer, and we never get tired of reading and rereading it.

  11. Soren Lorensen

    September 1, 2009 at 10:52 am

    i have this book

    I saved up for it when I was a kid

    you can't walk away from his work

  12. FR

    September 1, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Ordered your book, BOL keeps cancelling it, because of delivery problems. Hope to have it soon!!!!

  13. Jacinda Davis

    September 1, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for sharing your influencers. It's always interesting to see where people's influences come from. I'm looking forward to buying your book in the next month or so. I didn't realize that it is already out!

  14. Fru-fru

    September 1, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Ordered your book, BOL keeps cancelling it, because of delivery problems. Hope to have it soon!!!!

  15. Martine

    September 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Happy to know there is a book as I enjoy and love your photos, congratulations, amitié Martine

  16. JustNorman

    September 1, 2009 at 11:02 am

    that's a strong photo my friend.

    the blog that no one knows about

  17. claire

    September 1, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I just went to an exhibition of his works. Love the pictures of sleeping people. Wondering if we can be as unguarded when awake.

  18. L

    September 1, 2009 at 11:15 am

    its a beautiful picture, those eyes!

  19. JamieDOTBall

    September 1, 2009 at 11:16 am

    i love the story behind this photo..and the photo itself..well..such piercing eyes!

  20. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 11:20 am

    the cover photo is of a young girl that he found in a refugee camp in Afghanistan (I think in the 80s, maybe '83) and he later went on a mission to find the girl years later. His journey was successful and he shot her again. However, this time her eyes had faded, and as a young woman she looked much older than her years, which is a testimate to her life's hardships.

    He is an incredible photographer and humanitarian.

  21. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Steve Mccurry is the one who inspired me to learn more about photography, he is the one who got me REALLY interested in what i am passionate about today….

  22. minji song

    September 1, 2009 at 11:23 am

    i preordered it the moment you publicized the book's coming.

    i love it. :)

  23. The Voguette

    September 1, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I'm very excited to flip through your book – Your photos have been inspiration for millions of bloggers – thank you.

  24. trailsshoppers

    September 1, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I remembered this from National Geographic cover..stunning blue eyes…behind a hardship life

  25. Thecoountess

    September 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I really like Steve McCurry's work.

    And the photo "Afghan girl" is truly amazing. Such a simple picture but it evokes so much emotion.

  26. Flor Márquez

    September 1, 2009 at 11:55 am

    CONGRATULATIONS for your new book. I´m 100% Sure that your book is FANTASTIC, like this blog.

    You are an inspiration… like "Portraits"

  27. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I had the good fortune to meet Mr. McCurry in the middle of nowhere during a festival for the Khampas people and I'm happy to report that he has the natural elegance of his subjects. What a nice human being. Thank you so much for speaking out about his blog–I didn't know it existed and can't wait to read all about it!

    And ps. Hooray that your book is on Amazon.fr! I'll still have to wait at least a week but know it will be worth it…

  28. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Photographers far and wide will be adding your Sartorialist book to their collections. I just received my copy and am very pleased!!!!!

  29. Bevin

    September 1, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I got your book this past weekend and I love flipping through it! Great inspiration! Thank you

  30. bri.

    September 1, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I found this book very impressive as well, and i love the story behind it!

  31. Tina

    September 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I just picked up your book last night and it is wonderful. I'm fascinated by your short stories on your subjects.

  32. thwany

    September 1, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    congrats on your book launch!

  33. Penelope

    September 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    One of the highlight of my years working for Kodak was meeting Steve McCurry. In person he is a kind and humble human being. Having been in his unassuming presence, I understand how he is able to get so close to his subjects both physically and emotionally. Thank you for calling attention to him; his life is a lesson for all of us.

  34. davidsl

    September 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    thanks for sharing your influences, scott. it is interesting to get a peak into the mind of a creative soul.

    i purchased your book about 10 days ago and have gone through it 4 or 5 times already. the images are so rich. i've tagged about two dozen to act as references for my own wardrobe revamping project.

  35. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I have just discovered Steve McCurry, and really want to buy "Portraits". I looked it up in a norwegian bookstore´s website, and it costs about 892 US dollars! did you spend that amount of money on it?
    Please answer, because I can´t figure out how to mail you from my mac:)

    warm hug from norway

  36. Pedro Herrero

    September 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    His portraits are really inspiring, also this book's wonderful. I think I've probably seen it at Le Pompidou in Paris…

    198, Butterfly: Design, Fashion and Architecture.


  37. Chelsea

    September 1, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    My mother mailed me a copy of "portraits" in a care package my freshman year of college. I've carried it with me in every move since. You grow attached to the people in at, they feel familiar in a way, and yet also foreign, exotic.

  38. Sesega

    September 1, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing…

  39. Zamri Abdullah

    September 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm


    I think it is the most iconic cover ever. Maybe the 'Monalisa' of the new age, perhaps? The intensity of the eyes is just 'haunting'. Marvellous shot.


  40. Linn Emilie

    September 1, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    this picture says more than words can ever say!

  41. the librarian

    September 1, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I love this book and the kids at my school love it too! I am really enthusiastic about putting wonderful, visually stimulating stuff in front of them and seeing what results in their comments, their enthusiasms and their own work!
    Looking forward to receiving your book this week, pre-ordered on Amazon natch.

    What do you think of Tim Walker? Very different from your stuff but utterly wonderful none the less!

  42. ModernGear TV

    September 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    What timing – I just got my media preview copy from the deliveryman this morning! I will be adding it into my Shopping Guide for October's Long Beach Magazine, a publication at which I am editor-in-chief.

    I am going to brew a cup of tea, toast a bagel, and sit down with your work. I can't wait!

    A warm and hearty Congratulations, Scott. It looks amazing!

    Tamara Komuniecki

  43. RW

    September 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Scott, I have studied your each and every photo in your book. I love the lighting, the depth of field that you capture. Please let your loyal followers know if you ever have a photo workshop. I'll be there.

  44. Juuli

    September 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    interesting i have to take a look at those books you mentioned

  45. Ma. Laura

    September 1, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Congratulations for your book!!!

    Thanks for talking about the photographers that inspierd you. It´s not easy to find information about you guys, when it comes to know more about who is who and who did what in photography.

    Do you know if your book will be published in South America?

    Greetings from Argentina!!

  46. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Ordered your book ;-)

  47. ooscarr

    September 1, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I see that picture everyday on a national geographic advertisement. Now I know who took that picture. Thanks.

  48. robby

    September 1, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Aw, Steve McCurry's Portraits was my first photography book. I bought it when I was 15 or 16.

  49. Sophie Chalumeau

    September 1, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Funny enough, there was a program this morning about photojournalism on a french radio channel and they mainly talked about Steve McCurry and how he wonderfully captures people. Thanks for this post!

  50. oLO

    September 1, 2009 at 3:47 pm

  51. Helen James

    September 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you so much. I love these new posts letting us know a little more about you and what drives you,, really interesting and inspiring.

  52. Faux Naif

    September 1, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    My friend was recently emptying out his library and he filled up boxes of books for people to take. You can't imagine my joy when I found this book! I know exactly what you mean about the format – it is perfect, perfect, perfect. A democratic art book. A friendly piece of beauty.

  53. connie

    September 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Remember – we also sell your book at Anthropologie!

  54. Liz Kim

    September 1, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Although I'm still "reading" it, your book is fabulous. It's taking me longer to read than the average full-texted book. Not only is there so much to see, soak and comprehend… but my mom stole it. Timeshare. =)

    Liz Kim

    ps. Love McCurry's Afghan Girl.

  55. Ndeye Nguenar

    September 1, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Just ordered ine and can't wait to hold it in my hands !

  56. Christina

    September 1, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I own this book and am always amazed whenever I look through it. The girl on the cover is strikingly beautiful. Those eyes are piercing. Cudos to you on your success and to looking back and remembering you influenced you. Steve McCurry's portraits are amazing and so are yours.


  57. Lukas

    September 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Saw your book today at the bookstore; absolutely lovely and feels great in your hand. Congratulations!

  58. Nath

    September 1, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    i have seen this book in many stores, and every time i passed it by i looked throught it over and over again. Photos in there are just indescribable in words, amazing!

  59. Ndeye Nguenar

    September 1, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I just ordered mine and can't wait to hold the holy grail in my hands !

  60. Miss Zoe

    September 1, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I ordered your book on amazon (i live in melbourne, australia) and it arrived last night- the size both surprised me and excited me- exactly like you say, it is convenient and easy. Not coffee table book heavy! And its so beautiful to flick through. thanks.

  61. -h

    September 1, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    his photos are incredible.

  62. Amanda

    September 1, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for the recommendation! I'm a librarian, so I love the theme of inspirational books. Speaking of which, my husband and I love your new book. Congratulations!

  63. Liane

    September 1, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I recently bought your book and I absolutely love it.

    I like the superb compilation of the photos that you have taken throughout the years. IT gave me the inspiration that I need during the time that I bought it.

    Must go see the Steve McCurry book now.

  64. ateev anand

    September 1, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    sart, i totally agree with you on the size of the book and the lack of preciousness idea. i am a designer and i design with the same concept. i feel if any design is put up on a pedestal it only intimidates. but if it is made accessible it becomes easy to identify with and the impact that such a connect may generate would be far greater than any.
    thanks for always being so inspiring. can't wait to get your book!

  65. Taevon Palmer

    September 1, 2009 at 8:45 pm

  66. Catherine Ashley Talks fashion

    September 1, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    That portrait is one of the most captivating pictures i have ever seen,
    i saw it on a national geographic cover years back and couldnt help but be drawn into her world-

    what must she be going though/feeling/ doing at that moment…

  67. Anonymous

    September 1, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Thank you for the joy that this brings to anyone who looks and knows and understands.

  68. Passport Foodie

    September 1, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    One of the best shots in the history of celluloid and one of the best photographers. Nice post!

    Passport Foodie


    September 1, 2009 at 11:28 pm



  70. Jennifer

    September 2, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I have always loved that portrait by Mr.McCurry- the Afghan Girl, and the photograph that he took of her approximately 17 yrs later.
    Thank-you, too for posting about the Elgort book!

  71. HRHsteph

    September 2, 2009 at 1:09 am

    My mother, being an avid National Geographic reader, bought the original print of this book several years ago. I was probably somewhere around 10-12 years old. I never forgot that book, I used to pull it out of the "adult bookshelf" and go through the entire thing over and over again. I never got sick of it, and like many others I never forgot the Afghan Girl's eyes. My mother would summarize her story, and the story of Afghanistan for me.

    Fast Foward several years, and I still haven't forgotten the book. I have stolen the National Geographic issue with the Afghan girl on the cover from my mum's collection, and I keep it beside the more recent issue with her updated picture.

    This past Christmas my mum bought me my own issue of the book, and I look through it nearly everyday. The only difference is that on the back cover they have the Afghan Girl's updated photo.

    Your photos are the only ones that I have felt as connected to as Stephen McCurry's.

  72. Audrey

    September 2, 2009 at 1:20 am

    Ah! I own Portraits. What a beautiful collection of photographs. Great insight into the lives of all types of people! I have used it to study the faces of people to aid me in my portrait drawing. Lovely book, and a great post!

  73. Mirriam

    September 2, 2009 at 2:54 am

    wow, it's really good of you to share and pay homage to your early influences! I love how you capture the essence of the people you shoot.. it is lovely, quite romantic. I love also the way of you seem to celebrate such diversity — of style and otherwise :)

    I hope I bump into you on the street some day!

  74. Anonymous

    September 2, 2009 at 3:01 am

    Aw I remember tihis picture when it was on the frontpage of National Geographic-dind´t he get an award because of it? A picture of the same lady was taken several years later, he searched her up and tok her picture again. Life hadn´t been easy on her-but hte eyes was still very beaturiful and special!

    Like his work-and your´s ;)!

  75. Christine

    September 2, 2009 at 3:11 am

    I saw that photo in National Geog before!!

  76. Anonymous

    September 2, 2009 at 4:16 am

    Any updates on the book tour dates? I am dying to know so that I can pencil it into my datebook now! Especially since you said earlier that Dublin is on your list :)

  77. Craig Curtis

    September 2, 2009 at 4:27 am

    I just ordered your book, Scott. As a long time fan of this site, I cannot wait to get my hands on it! Congratulations!!!

  78. Elise

    September 2, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Good morning – I just had to stop by and leave you a note because you have the most wonderfully fabulous blog. I've loved reading your interesting posts, all very creative and great pictures too. What could be more perfect ? Thanks for sharing them all and best wishes…

  79. Claire

    September 2, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Sart I received your book in the post yesterday. I love it, it's brilliant!

  80. jessica

    September 2, 2009 at 7:42 am

    thanks for mccurry's blog…interesting to follow.
    going to borders book store today to look for your book.

  81. Jodie

    September 2, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I bought your book at three lives yesterday! Its wonderful, sitting bedside. I'm so happy a lot of the earlier ones were included. When will you be signing it in Manhattan!?

  82. Alice Olive

    September 2, 2009 at 8:37 am

    I love this blog because I never know what each day will bring. However, one of the things I loved about your book is that it is your point of view deliberately 'collected' or organized into themes.

  83. saradowle

    September 2, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I've ordered your book and I can't wait for it to arrive! Love to see your influences as you yourself influence others!

  84. Polkadot

    September 2, 2009 at 9:25 am

    i love this image! how sad about kodachrome tho :(

    thanks for the book recommendations, a great idea!

  85. *

    September 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for the inspirational books. I love seeing what people have in their personal libraries.

    I just bought your book last weekend when I was in Cambridge. It is prominently placed on my desk at work. I've also enlightened my team to your blog, including my fashion-savvy boss!

  86. Paisley Petunia

    September 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    What an accomplishment, so happy to support you + your art.

  87. cathyc

    September 2, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Oh, Sartorialist. I have been to McCurry's blog, as you advise. Why, oh why are photographers/artists so ignorant as to use white text on black background which is almost impossible to read and is aesthetically offensive.

    Why, oh why do they think that their pictures look better surrounded by black???

    Please don't ever succumb to this ignorant trend. Your understanding of the aesthetics of print and photograph on page are much appreciated.

  88. vintagegurl92

    September 2, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    I just bought your book! I have been seriously following you blog for months, and was thrilled to read your book was published.
    I am an aspiring photographer myself and i am a great admire of your work. I love the way you capture life, making the "everyday" look…better.

  89. isadora

    September 2, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    hey, you should also put up a link to a brazilian bookstore that sells your book online. it's called Livraria Cultura, one of the most respected and reliable bookstores here.
    here's the link:

  90. Blovet Beauty

    September 3, 2009 at 2:52 am

    congrats! I have been reading ur blog for a really really long time and can't wait to get my hands on ur BooK!

  91. james.L

    September 3, 2009 at 9:22 am

    oh my !
    How just girl of book can be misterious.

  92. Shadan Saber

    September 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

    wow… the cover is so powerful!

  93. Olwyn

    September 3, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I've always loved this photograph. Olwyn

  94. Anonymous

    September 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Steve McCurry's famous portrait of the little girl (on his cover) is revered by her countrymen: I've seen it and heard all about it in a back of the beyond Afghani restaurant. Truly one of the greatest portraits.

    There is something approaching nobility with photography acknowledges the quiet, it's a treat to see these books and look forward to paging through them.

    And don't forget local libraries! They hold more gorgeous photography books than any of us can afford to buy.

  95. Anonymous

    September 3, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    steve's website made me all teary. i went to cambodia this passed winter break and saw some of those photos taken by him. which i have the opportunity to do something he's doing when i get older. the world outside is so beautiful. i wish i can always leave whenever i want to :) congratz on the new book. i cant stop coming to your sites. you are my idol.

  96. Jasprit

    September 4, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I work for the V&A Museum in London and we will be stockists of your book in the UK!

  97. Kelly

    September 4, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Don't forget- you have fans in Canada too! Anywhere we can buy online without paying duty?

    Thanks :)

  98. Anonymous

    September 4, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    The photo on the cover of Steve McCurry's book is by far one of my favorite photos ever. I am not a photographer, just an admirer, but there is something about the girl that just touches your soul. And I believe I read somewhere that he took the photo with a special Kodak film that is being discontinued and they have given him a few of the last rolls to take more amazing photographs. I'm a new reader, but I'm a hooked! Can't wait to check our your book!

  99. hippie_cyndi

    September 5, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    the beautiful Afghan girl is such a universal image that personally made me interested in both photography and history when I discovered it @ my local library. She's both Eastern and Western, contrary to the stereotypes many hold about what a 'Muslim' aught to look like. Steve McCurry is an amazing photographer by capturing his audience with these moving images.

  100. kitkez

    September 6, 2009 at 8:35 am

    visit mine https://studdedstreet.blogspot.com

  101. Life with Kaishon

    September 6, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    That portrait of that girl, it always takes my breath away. It says so much. So very much. And GREAT point about the size of the book. That is so cool. It always stays on top because of it's size.

  102. Australian job search

    September 11, 2009 at 9:13 am

    This a very good book. The girl in the book cover is very familiar to me. I think I've seen her featured in the television. I never thought I would find her here. I like her story a lot.

  103. Anonymous

    September 11, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I remember reading that she was embarrassed at the time he took that picture because she had just burned a hole in her veil while cooking.

    Still though, those eyes and the serendipity of the colors just nailed the shot.

  104. Dan

    September 13, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Wow! Great article. I am a big fan of your blogs. Style is everchanging, and so challenging!
    investment manager

  105. imelda

    November 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Portraits by Steve McCurry is a great book, I bought one for my ex's birthday present long time ago, he wanted to jump career from art director to become a photographer :)

  106. Elisabetta

    January 19, 2010 at 6:11 am

    "Portraits" of McCurry has been my first photography book too!!! i love him!!

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