From the moment humans first tamed animals about 10,000 years ago, animals have played a big role in people's lives. Even though at first animals were used for meat, milk, and hides, as time passed, humans realized that they are not just food but living and breathing creatures. They began to see them as their friends who would accompany them while hunting, traveling or guarding their homes. However, there was always something special but complex in the relationship between humans and animals and one photographer dedicated his travels to show that.
Scroll down for Bored Panda's in-depth interview with Steve McCurry.
Best known for his portrait of the "Afghan Girl" with the piercing green eyes published in 1985, Steve McCurry has been one of the biggest and most respected names in contemporary photography for more than forty years. The American photographer has built his career around his daring coverage of armed conflict, however, his other passion - animals - was less known to the public. With that in mind, a new book simply called "Steve McCurry. Animals" published by Taschen was born. The book skillfully explores the complex relationship with humans and the environment and tells a thousand stories from all over the world.
In an interview with Bored Panda, McCurry had this to say about his photo book: "The idea of photographing animals and people may have been planted in my mind since I was first starting out as a young photographer. My sister gave me my first photo book, Son of Bitch, a collection of pictures of dogs and their humans by the great photographer and friend Elliott Erwitt. It was the first time I saw a book on animals with humor, pathos, and wonderful storytelling. Animals are one of my favorite subjects to shoot; they are completely unpredictable. Animals are in constant motion, have a mind of their own and rarely pay any attention to directions from a photographer."
The photographer revealed that the photo from Kuwait was, in his opinion, his best work from the entire book. "Working in Kuwait in the aftermath of the first Gulf War was a surreal and unforgettable experience. There were 600 oil fields burning, panicked and starved animals were wandering about, and the landscape was dotted with dead Iraqi soldiers. It was heartbreaking to see these animals, which we were supposed to be guardians of. Those animals that escaped slaughter were abandoned and left to wander the streets looking for food and shelter."
A second favorite, according to McCurry, was a photo he took in Thailand. "I photographed this novice monk studying Buddhist writings in the late afternoon at a monastery in Aranyaprathet, Thailand, near the border with Cambodia. I watched the changing light as the monks went about both the mundane and sacred duties of their day. With the simple use of wood and fabric, of shades of saffron from mustard gold to deep orange, their environment was serene. The patient cat completed the scene of contemplation and peace."
"It is my hope that people will see animals as intelligent beings that deserve our love and respect. In most cases, our pets are totally dependent on us for their survival and safety. It’s our duty to protect them like our own children. Since we often create a special bond with certain animals, I would hope people should treat them with the care they deserve."
In this book, Steve McCurry presents his favorite shots of animals in a kaleidoscopic collection which he gathered from Asia to South America, the United States to Europe. He invites us to look through his lens and discover an appreciation for each living creature's beauty and silent yet magnificent dignity. From a Muslim woman feeding thousands of doves, a teenage boy eating an ice lolly while a white albino rat sits on his shoulders, a man smoking a cigarette and reading a newspaper while his dog accompanies him, to elephants passing a lounge poolside while tourists enjoy their holidays, McCurry's photos are captivating and definitely stands out of the crowd by perfectly tributing the creatures who share our planet.
Altai Region, Mongolia
Kham Litang, Tibet
Tonle Sap, Cambodia
Long Island City, NY