Afghan Girl

PhotoTalk 2020/22

In June 1985 Steve McCurry’s photograph (since called Afghan Girl) was printed on the cover of the National Geographic magazine, anyone looking at the magazine was immediately struck by the intent look of an adolescent girl staring intently out from the magazine.


It is such an iconic image that it has been named “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the magazine.  It portrayed an adolescent Sharbat Gula (or Sharbat Bibi) in a red head scarf, with her striking green eyes staring intently at the camera.  McCurry’s use of Kodachrome film was widely known, and the colours he achieved were brilliant, needless to say he used his tools to advantage.

The context in which the image was published likely aided the readers, but the image itself stands alone.  It has been widely discussed, widely reprinted, and widely reproduced on the internet as well.  McCurry has lost some standing worldwide due to a few scandals involving some of his photographs and “editing”, but the impact of the Afghan Girl image is undeniable.

Fame or infamy, Photo-Journalism or Exploitation? Let’s talk!


Original comments and discussions can be found on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook post.

Red Jackson – Gordon Parks

PhotoTalk 2020/07


In 2018, I had the privilege to view the Gordon Parks exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

It was the only photography exhibit (if I remember correctly), and this is in a Gallery with some of the most astounding works of art from different eras. There is no doubt that Park’s work deserved to be there. I first learned about his work through the YouTube channel ‘The Art of Photography’ which is run by Ted Forbes, but to witness his work first hand was quite an experience.

I will not give you a biography about Gordon Parks since you can easily find that information online. What I want to do here is discuss the importance of photography. Each photographer has a reason for taking photographs – some practice as a hobby, others risk their lives to tell stories that would otherwise never reach the world had it not been for their passion and determination, and there’s everything in between.

I’m usually curious as to what stories photographers want to tell through their images, what they wish to achieve, what do they wish to portray?

Feel free to share in the comments below.

Now, let’s get to the image shown – the title is Red Jackson, Harlem, New York 1948. Gordon Parks spent a few weeks documenting the life of a Harlem gang leader, Red Jackson, and the photos were featured in a photo essay in Life magazine in 1948. Without getting into much detail, Parks told a story with his unique artistic style, of life in Harlem during that period. It’s now preserved as part of history, and something current generations can still access and learn about. Not only was he a photojournalist, but he was an artist and pioneer. I believe there is honesty and intimacy in Parks’ work because of the relationship he had with his subjects and the communities he photographed, and his artistry helps to deepen the connection between the viewer and his images.

What relationship do you have with your subjects as a photographer? Why do you believe your work is important to you or others? Let’s get the conversation going and deepen our connection with photography and art.

For more information and photos by Gordon Parks:

Aside from the main image, I took the liberty of sharing some photos I took of the Gordon Parks Exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. in November, 2018.





Thanks for joining in.

Darrell Carpenay.

The original post by Darrell Carpenay was posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on April 5th, 2020. The original comments and discussion can be see in that post.

Ghandi – Margaret Bourke-White

PhotoTalk 2020/06


Let’s talk about a famous female photographer, but not necessarily about her famous photo.

Margaret Bourke-White is known for her famous photograph of Ghandi and the Spinning Wheel; it is a notable photo for several reasons, among which are the fact that its a photo of Mahatma Ghandi, she was the last person to do his portraits before his assassination (and interview him, a story in itself), it captured Ghandi as never before, the simple man at his then infamous charkha, she was the first woman to break into the photojournalism field, her photo was the cover of the very first TIME magazine, and the list of her accomplishments goes on.

The amazing thing to me is that she became famous for doing something she originally didn’t want to do, photograph people, especially those in politics. She started out shooting waterfalls to make ends meet, then into a bit of architecture, until she got to shoot subjects she was passionate about, machinery, things in industrial America (and the wider world), then into photojournalism, the war, etc.

I could go on, but you should check our her story yourselves, as well as photos from those earlier periods.

So let’s talk, got opinions? got questions, let’s chat!

Original post to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook group was done on April 3rd, 2020. Original comments and discussion can be seen on that post.