Portraiture and Place: Steve McCurry in Tagong, Tibet
03rd January 2022
With his insightful journalistic attitude to photography, Steve McCurry has encapsulated some of the most acclaimed images of the 20th and 21st centuries. McCurry produces photographs that seek to formulate visual histories from an authentic representation of people and places. Although photographing a wide retrospective of subjects, he is a celebrated portrait photographer, unrivalled in his depiction of the wealth of narrative within the faces he encountered throughout his travels.
This image presents a portrait of a young woman occupying the majority of the composition and gazing out into the viewer’s space. We are engulfed by her presence, the focussed foreground heightening the authority of the sitter. The muted colour palette on her face contrasts with the vibrancy of her emerald shirt, further enriched by the vivid blues and reds of her jewellery. The softened red background frames this composition, continuing to draw our eye back to her, each time revealing a new detail.
McCurry wandered through Tibet photographing the people and places, connecting with those he met along the way in any way he could. Despite not speaking Tibetan, he used the universal language that photography presents to capture these novel moments. However, he was not solely interested in taking someone’s picture, ‘You take a walk, you meet people and many times those people aren’t going to result in a picture, but the encounter is worthwhile.’ During his time in Tibet in 1999, McCurry attended the annual Tagong horse fair, on the Kham grasslands of Eastern Tibet. More interested in the diversity of people attending this event than the event itself, it was here that this vibrant image was taken.
‘I think the best way to actually photograph somebody is to really look into their eyes’ McCurry has said, ‘The eyes are so expressive, they say so much about a person.’ Woman at a Horse Festival, Tagong, Tibet, illustrates this expressive nature, her eyes are a focal point, our gazes connect at first glance and urge us to explore her further. Teetering on the edge of innovative photojournalism and fine art, his natural and genuine images of people embody the true universality of the profundities of human emotion.
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