We have all probably seen her picture. First published in June 1985 as the cover photograph for National Geographic magazine, her beautiful—yet haunting—eyes fix on us. Disheveled hair frames her life-weary face. Cloth wraps round her, covering her head and upper body, ragged holes worn through, telling us these eyes have seen too much. No smile, no frown, no emotion visible. Just ...those ...eyes.
In the 200-plus photographs that fill this book, it is the portraits of the children that catch my eye, my emotions. Many of the photos of the adults are richly ornate, decorated for some purpose in their life, either by garb, by possessions, by tattoos, or by the way they have learned to pose their body.
But the children are, for the most part, pure and unadorned. Some are obviously loved and protected. Others appear to be more vulnerable. But all share the exuberance of youth, the joy of the moment, the anticipation of the future that youth brings to the soul.
This is not a book of glamour, though some pictures are of costumed and bejeweled individuals. This is not a book of portraits of rich and famous white people. (Although there is one famous, elegant white guy.) This is a book of portraits of 'people of color', the citizens of the Third World. People surviving. The few pictures of young white people here in the US are almost all portraits of individuals screaming for attention with their tattoos, animals, and hair styles. It is almost embarrassing.
See my Epinions.com post here, Portraits / A journey into the soul, to read my complete review of this wonderful book of Steve McCurry's photographs.
NGC 3621: Far Beyond the Local Group
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