With a marvelous Steve McCurry retrospective kicking off the new issue I thought I would visit my favourite iconic photographs. These are images that shock and stun, that titillate and provoke, that tell the stories of our world and freeze moments of a certain time and mood for us to keep forever.
Tennis Girl – Martin Elliot (1976) The photo that launched a thousand furtive teenage fumblings – nowadays, when all manner of smut is available a mere few clicks away, it hard to imagine how saucy just the sight of of a bare bum could be. But its not just our libidos that stand up and salute this fine picture, the crisp white dress, the low sun, and the cheeky seaside humour make this a perfect representation of an idyllic English summer.
V-J Day in Times Square – Alfred Eisenstaedt (1945) In one act that would probably lead to quite serious sexual assault charges today the jubilant sailor sums up the relief and joy of a nation who had lost their sons, husbands and fathers to a war they didn’t start. His strong hand in focus in the foreground and the way the nurse is completely melting into the kiss is at once intensely romantic and a small clue how people must have felt that day.
Kissing Couple – Richard Lam (2010) Another kiss, a Canadian woman is knocked down by Vancouver police and her boyfriend rushes to comfort her. Framed in the foreground by a looming policeman in riot gear, the clear space that surrounds the couple plus the bare skin of her legs highlights their fragility and makes the kiss that bit more more special and human especially when juxtaposed with the chaos that surrounds them.
Muhammad Ali vs Sonny Liston – Donald L. Robinson (1965) One of the greatest sportsmen that ever lived wild and triumphant, the rules stated that he should have returned to a neutral corner so the knockout count should never have been upheld, but the flurry of undefended blows landed afterwards would have stopped the match anyway. Muhammad Ali upholding his promise of ‘first minute, first round’ is telling Sonny Liston to ‘get up and fight sucka’.
Afghan Girl – Steve McCurry (1985) Of course we put this in. But the photograph itself is not without merit. Literally stunning, the girl pins you to the spot with piercing pale green eyes. The complimentary red and green of her clothing brings out the ethereal qualities of the young girls face, which at once humanises her and sets her apart as special.
Issue Three contains a complete retrospective of Steve McCurry’s life as a photographer including the photographs that made him defined his career.