This famous cover picture of his National Geographic story on the Railways was a special case that I remember. He actually had to reshoot it and got the railways to take the engine back, because the first shoot was not sharp enough
I met the man decades ago and even then he was manipulating his pictures.
I have watched him rig his pictures when he was shooting chrome film.
Back then he rigged what was in front of him. Arranged the subject. because chromes could not be that easily manipulated.
For a shot of the the kitchen in ” The Great Indian Rover ‘ he actually had the railing around the work bench removed . I know because I was there.
The last time I saw him he was arranging a picture in Delhi’s Lodi Garden directing a ‘waiter’ where to stand.
He does that a lot.
This apparently off the cuff moment was arranged too. The lady is the wife of a photographer friend and the suitcases the coolie is carrying are empty. They had to be because the shot took time and lots of patient posing.
McCurry’s pictures have been called STAGED CANDID MOMENTS by Avinash Pasricha, a photographer friend who knows how he works because he helped him with the pictures like the one above. The lady is his sister in law.
Many Photographers arrange and rig their pictures. Too many, probably.
I find that more than a let down because they pretend otherwise.
Personally speaking I think that by being ‘ illustrators ‘ of editorial content they miss out on the magic of seeing and the joy of being in a Zen moment of life allowed to happen.
First published on Satish Sharma’s blog