India Through the Lens of One of America’s Finest Photographers - Atlas Obscura
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India Through the Lens of One of America’s Finest Photographers

Steam engine passes in front of the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

In 1978, photographer Steve McCurry first traveled to India. His extraordinary career documenting armed conflicts was about to begin. From India, he crossed into Pakistan and was smuggled into Afghanistan, in disguise, just prior to the invasion of Soviet forces. He left the country with rolls of film sewn inside his clothes, and his images were among the first the world saw of the conflict.

A few years later his photograph of Sharbat Gula, also known as the ‘Afghan Girl,’ made the cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic. It is regarded as one of the world’s most recognizable photographs. Since then, McCurry has traveled extensively, later returning to India to create the series’ “Monsoon” and “India by Rail.”

Photographs from these collections, including some that have never been seen before, will be showcased in a new exhibition by the International Center of Photography and the Rubin Museum of Art that opens on November 18th. Below, a selection of McCurry’s vivid photos of India. 

Women in stepwell, Rajasthan. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Boy in mid-flight, Jodhpur, Rajasthan. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Young girl runs past movie poster, Mumbai, Maharashtra. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Tailor carries his sewing machine through monsoon waters, Porbandar, Gujarat. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Man practices acupressure while walking on gravel, Jaipur, Rajasthan. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Woman and child on the Howrah Mail train en-route to Kolkata, West Bengal. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Sikh devotee prays at the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Young Rinpoche, Bylakuppe, Karnataka. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Dust storm, Rajasthan. (Photo: © Steve McCurry

Rabari tribal elder, Rajasthan. (Photo: © Steve McCurry