Skip to content

Steve McCurry Intimacy of Reading: Photos

August 26, 2010

Destroyed control room, Kuwait City, Kuwait, 1991, The Unguarded Moment, final print_milan

Kuwait City, Kuwait, 1991

Reading is such a central thing in libraries, with millions of word devoured every day in libraries around the world. So I really liked this story I saw on Publishing perspectives.

Steve McCurry’s Photos Capture the Universality, Intimacy of Reading

• Steve McCurry, one of the most famous photojournalists in the world, is always on the hunt for the “unguarded moment” — a slice of time that is both personal and honest. He has often found this in moments when people are reading.

• ”There’s an intimacy people have with a book and its author that is similar, what couples have,” says McCurry. “[Reading] is a common link in our shared humanity, a thing we all do that is regardless of where we are economically or socially.”

By Edward Nawotka

Photojournalist Steve McCurry is best known for shooting one of the most famous photographs ever taken -– 1985’s “Afghan Girl,” an image of a young girl with sea green eyes staring defiantly into the camera. But war and those affected by it are not his only subjects. “Like most photographers, I’m fascinated by people in everyday situations,” he says via phone from Cape Town. “The work I do is mostly wandering and observing human nature and human activity, working and playing and leisure time. As you’re walking around the streets of China, India, New York, whererver -– it is fun to photograph people simply doing things.”

One of his ongoing projects is compiling a collection of photos of people reading; on Monday, he put a selection of these photos on display for the first time on his own blog. Entitled “Fusion: The Synergy of Energy and Words” (Part I and Part II) drew a strong reaction from book lovers. “More than 4,000 people visited the site in the first few hours and I started getting calls from librarians and booksellers asking about the photos,” says Bonnie McCurry V’Soske, Steve’s sister, who manages her brother’s business.

The idea to shoot photos of people reading was itself prompted by his relationship with legendary Hungarian photographer André Kertész, who was also fascinated with images of people reading. (You can view a gallery here). “Henri Cartier-Bresson was a friend of mine and he once said, ‘Whatever we have done, Kertész did first and it’s apt to start here,” says McCurry. “I met Kertész in 1984 when I moved into the same building where he lived on Fifth Ave. in New York and I knew he’d done a body of work on people reading. It was an inspiration to me. Reading is kind of the universal endeavor, one without regard to nationality, race, age or culture.”

Continue reading here.

Publishing perspectives are asking for photos of people reading which they can put on their site, which seems like a great idea. Library users could send us some of their favourite photos of themselves reading, which we can put up here and on Kete Tararua. Email photos to or call into the Dannevirke Library if they are in print form and we can scan them.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: