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Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Theology of Faces

Over twenty years after his startling cover photograph for National Geographic seared its image into the minds of the nation, Steve McCurry's "Afghan Girl" has retained its cultural importance. The photograph has gained such notoriety that I would venture to guess it is as well known as photographs like Joe Rosenthal's image of the marines erecting an American Flag in Iwo Jima and  that of the "Unknown Rebel," the lone Chinese protester standing in front of a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square. Over the years McCurry has continued to accrue awards for his photography, and has published portfolios of these photographs in several books. "Afghan Girl" appears in one of my all time favorite photography books, McCurry's Looking East.

Phaidon published Looking East in 2006 and I really think it is one of the most stunning books of portraits I have seen. McCurry's artistic style and ability to capture the depth of his subjects' expressions and unique faces amazes me every time I open the book. I have given Looking East to many friends and family members and I have sold it to many more. McCurry's photographs have the ability to enchant an eclectic group; I have sold it to grad students and given it to my grandmother. If you have a chance to check the book look forward to feeling moved. Just this afternoon I discovered that McCurry has an even more recent portfolio out called, In the Shadow of Mountains, and I cannot wait to read it!