Tension and Tranquility: Steve McCurry on Dal Lake
20th September 2021
Steve McCurry is a renowned photographer whose wide range of evocative images span over six continents and throughout countless countries. Travelling is an imperative part of his practice, McCurry states ‘my life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport’. Most famous for his vivid use of colour that dominates his work, he has documented locations that naturally lend themselves to colourful representations such as Tibet and India. McCurry has visited India over 80 times in the past 30 years, drawn back by the country’s boundless attraction and harsh realities, a unique subcontinent brimming with multifarious cultures, customs and regions.
The disputed region of Kashmir has been at the centre of increasing tensions between India and Pakistan since they came into being in 1947, both claiming the region in its entirety and controlling a section of the territory. The two countries have gone to war multiple times over Kashmir, with atrocities such as kidnapping and murder throughout the 90s keeping the region and its constant disruption in the news. McCurry, when describing his experience, mentioned the countries unrest, ‘In Kashmir I felt there was always tension…It was a very alarming experience’.
While visiting Dal Lake in 1996, McCurry travelled with the local flower sellers every morning as they floated down the river, documenting their journey. Flower Seller, Dal Lake, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1996 depicts a flower seller as he paddles on Dal Lake’s quiet waters, his arm raised mid-paddle slightly breaking the water with his stride. The boat is full of brilliant blooming flowers of every colour, the morning light filling the composition with a unique sense of vibrancy. McCurry strived to capture life away from the violence of this beautiful region, his photographs encapsulating the Kashmiri people’s perseverance and resilience, the candid nature of his work showing his subjects at their least self-conscious and most revealing.
The ArtistSteve McCurry (born 1950) is best known for his evocative colour photographs that document both human struggles and joy. Having travelled the globe for over thirty years, McCurry has photographed warzones, burning oil fields, refugee camps, ship breaking yards and monsoons all over the world. A member of Magnum Photos since 1986, many of his images have become modern icons.Artist Page