McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than 30 years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name. Born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, McCurry studied film at Pennsylvania State University, before working for a local newspaper. After several years of freelance work, he made his first of what would become many trips to India. Traveling with little more than a bag of clothes and another of film, he made his way across the subcontinent, exploring the country with his camera.
It was after several months of travel that he found himself crossing the border into Pakistan. There, he met a group of refugees from Afghanistan, who smuggled him across the border into their country, just as the Russian Invasion was closing the country to all western journalists. Emerging in traditional dress, with full beard and weather-worn features after weeks embedded with the Mujahideen, McCurry brought the world the first images of the conflict in Afghanistan, putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.