Steve McCurry for Valentino

Valentino Spring 2016 Campaign shot in Amboseli National Park in Kenya.

Steve McCurry is not a fashion photographer at all, but the brilliant chronicler of far-flung cultures whose work became famous on the pages of National Geographic. His most iconic photograph: “Afghan Girl,” the magazine’s June 1985 cover. She mesmerized the world.

For his part, McCurry focused on telling the story at hand. Photography is always about finding the best solution to a puzzle and creating some wonderful feeling or scenario, making a great story,” he says. “The idea of these pictures is to take the viewer on a journey. The clothes were inspired by African motifs, [so] to take the shoot to Africa and show how these things interact and, this connection of the clothes, the models, the environment, the local people; I thought it was a great endeavor.”

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Hand Painted Canvas Backdrops

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There are 22 comments on this post
  1. Simone Soldà
    January 13, 2016, 10:18 pm

    No shame at all in this?
    I mean, we stolen everything they had. And now? We use them as background actors?
    Am I the only one to get upset about this?? Seriously? Fashion and dust? Come on…
    Is this really fair????

    • May 08, 2016, 11:28 am

      You’re not the only one, I was amazed at how this supposed great story teller just seems to have lost his mind. how much did Valentino pay him that he went completely mad? He seems to have lost touch with reality. This is indeed very upsetting, not just because it seems using a tribe as background seems to diminish their culture for commercial purposes…but the contrast between those models and the true daily life and rituals of those “in the background” only screams one thing…. you don’t belong here, and it’s not the natives saying it, it’s the smug looks on the face of the models that’s telling the natives that they are somehow ruining the vibe.
      Very confusing and disappointing.

    • Julie Kizershot
      November 19, 2016, 5:00 pm

      I agree with those who believe it is exploitive to use humans as setting and props unless they are actually models. It’s disappointing to see this world travelled photographer do this work. He always struck me as someone who could see humanity and beauty everywhere, but sadly this misses the “humanity” mark on half the equation.

  2. Alex Ander
    January 14, 2016, 8:44 am

    Boring, useless and insulting.
    Sort of thing fashion editors loved to do in the ’90ies and only boring photographers could accept to do.
    We are in 2014 this kind of photography is border line amatorial: it does not take a genius to scatters few chicks around the frame under the African sky.
    Next time hire a proper fashion photographer and of course, have your AD to do some real work before the photoshoot and come up with a concept that we did not see a million times already.

  3. January 14, 2016, 10:18 am

    Africa? Dust? Fashion? steve-mccurry?
    U have taken every thing from these poor people and now you see this??? and shocking thing is steve-mccurry????
    You must be joking….!!!!!
    steve-mccurry is my role model in photography, I have learned a lot from his photography, but this…….!!!!

    • January 19, 2016, 4:54 pm

      sometimes the need to cross abstract moral/ethical lines is economically necessary…one needs to eat & pay bills. I think photos are beautiful

  4. cj freeze
    January 15, 2016, 10:53 pm

    Oi, this is blasphemy, but everyone needs to pay the bills, and he must be scrapping the pot with this series to get them paid…what a shock to say the least!

  5. Beauvent
    January 22, 2016, 8:27 am

    magnifique évocation, très poétique du monde très privilégiè des Masaï… Ils sont très modernes : businessmen doués, téléphones portables sous leur manteau…mais ils veulent protéger leur mode de vie et je les admire pour cela ! bravo

  6. Karolyn Ferguson
    January 22, 2016, 9:57 am

    I don’t know – maybe there is something wrong with me. But living in Kenya, knowing the Amboseli and the Maasai people, I think these photos are beautiful.

  7. Danica Sherry
    January 22, 2016, 6:25 pm

    The cultural appropriation is more than a little disappointing. If you’re shooting in Africa, and the fashion presentation is African inspired, why are your models not primarily women of colour? You are using their culture and their people as props, and in this day and age, there is no excuse for ignorance on this.

    • Peter
      January 23, 2016, 11:08 pm

      Why say “women of colour”? It is so generic as to be pointless. All people are one colour or another. If you mean African, Kenyan, Amboseli or Maasai, then say so. If you want to say “not a white-skinned woman”, say so. Speaking in code is rubbish.

  8. January 22, 2016, 6:50 pm

    The big questions I have are:
    1. Are the tribes whose traditional patterns and clothing inspired Valentino getting any credit?
    2. Did Valentino have any consultation with these tribes before designing this line, and did he have consultation with the tribes regarding the designs themselves.
    3. Is Valentino going to participate in a dialogue about the importance of preserving traditional ways of life and that Euro-centric priorities/ways of living are not the only valid priorities/ways of living.

    My guess is that each of these questions will be answered with no.

    The article itself says that patterns were inspired by African motifs which leads to me noting that ‪#‎africaisnotacountry‬. There are an estimated 3,000 different tribes on the African continent. My bet is that Valentino can’t name which tribes his patterns were inspired by.

    The most common image that we get of Africa in North America (when people want to depict the continent, not individual countries) is the desolate landscape, dry dusty air, mud buildings, etc etc. This photoshoot plays right into that imagery, no doubt on purpose to highlight these fancy dresses against a “primitive” backdrop. However, this is also the kind of imagery used by organizations like World Vision ads to make viewers feel sorry for those living in such conditions. These models are not celebrating in these peoples’ culture or participating in their traditional way of life. They are set apart and the tribe is their background, their prop.

    But at least they used one black model, right?

  9. Dave Wilson
    January 22, 2016, 9:39 pm

    Once again, people are going overboard in their hunt for things to complain about.

    I think the photos are fantastic and beautiful!

    January 22, 2016, 10:00 pm

    c’est magnifique!tout est magnifique! Bravo

  11. Joanna
    January 22, 2016, 10:38 pm

    Gorgeous! Concept and all. For the criticism above- think outside your box and for those that suggest only “black” live in Afrca need to visit Africa.

  12. Kim Brady
    January 22, 2016, 10:46 pm

    Your criticisms are absurd! I care very much about the African people, culture and wildlife. I’d much rather see fashion shoots as a source of income for local tribes than hunting safaris that kill off thousands of endangered animals every year. Direct your anger toward the real issues, not a fashion designer or photographer who are trying to showcase the beauty of Africa’s people and land. If you find these images boring or insulting, you shouldn’t call yourself a photographer. The lighting and composition are impeccable.

  13. January 26, 2016, 11:00 am

    […] People are asking questions about ethics and principles, as you can see in the comments of Photographer Magazine. These photos were shot by Steve McCurry, renown National Geographic photographer, to showcase the […]

    • Kaustub Kamble
      April 07, 2016, 1:54 pm

      Absolutely Brilliant campaign ! Too much over-reaction of people here.

  14. November 15, 2016, 9:19 pm

    Had to finish the article, amazing concept; shows strength and serenity.

  15. Micha
    August 10, 2017, 4:07 pm

    Yeah f this.

    Photojournalists should never do fashion, because they lose they integrity. Fashion means fake for me, photojournalismn should be always true and have a meaning. But this is just making money.

  16. May 12, 2018, 2:45 am

    I really really appreciate things like this, very Natural!

  17. Ikhlef
    February 18, 2019, 1:19 am

    I think the problem isn’t with the beauty of the photos as such but with the job being done by a great photographer with a soul. This is the real deception since the work could’ve been done by any other fashion photographer but not Steve McCurry. No.

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