Steve McCurry (1950-) is a worldwide international photographer. McCurry was among the first to show the conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan through powerful photographs. He is most famously known for his ‘Afghan girl’ photograph, this was featured on the front cover of the National Geographic magazine in 1985. McCurry photography subjects focus on portraits, and emotions of the consequences of war.
The Hindu festival of Holi in South Asia mainly in India is a colourful celebration for love. The participants wear white, dancing the streets throwing powder paint and coloured water at each other. The occasion of love is the one day of the year where people forget their enemies, mix with rich and poor, strangers, all age ranges and genders. Holi implies the victory of good over evil. It also symbolises the end of winter and welcomes the start of spring, new friendships, repairing friendships, forgiving and forgetting.
Although using a limited palate which is opposite in the colour wheel it creates a strong contrast with vivid colours almost surreal. They are not natural as in nature; the ratio of green to red is opposite to petals and greenery. The colours even though are limited have a hue range or variation. Unnatural for the Asian’s usually dark skin they are tainted with the colour red and green hues which make the picture more vibrant and appealing.
The texture of the coloured powder has created almost a pattern on the tops of their turbans creating interests along with the crisp folds of the headgear. The texture of the powder against the hard, solid stone of the ground is also a textural contrast. The powder on his stomach contrasts with the almost fluorescent colour of the top of his turban which draws the eye into the image just off centre.
There is no natural skin tone to be seen and the central figure has ridges of ribs evident through the rubbing of the paint into his skin and makes made by being manhandled. The colours of his arms and legs have been altered through the process of many hands lifting him. The green of his body in crucifix on pose echoes purifying flesh almost and the reds of the surrounding coils of the turbans could represent the blood.
The photographer managed to capture an almost impossible angle for the image, capturing the main figure in the bird’s eye view but the crowd not at the same angle. The crucifix figure assists with the composition by leading the eye across the whole photo as a focal point. The expressions of the few faces that can be seen also help to direct the viewer’s eye. The central focal point of his expression is a mixture of agony and ecstasy. He has been uplifted and removed from reality, he has no control which could be frightening but as the festival celebrates love he will not be threatened or fear violence. He looks almost surprised but not anxious.