Solms, Germany/St. Moritz, Switzerland (September 7, 2011) – Magnum photographer Steve McCurry is the winner of the inaugural Leica Hall of Fame Award. During the “Tribute to Photography” night on September 1st, an event within the framework of the St. Moritz Art Masters in Switzerland, Steve McCurry was awarded the prize donated by Leica Camera AG: a Leica M9-P with the engraved name of the award and Steve McCurry’s hand-written signature.
Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Director of Leica Gallery Salzburg, presented the award. “Steve McCurry is telling stories with his pictures, moving stories. By this he involves us in the fate of people worldwide. For Steve McCurry the human is the center”, said Karin Rehn-Kaufmann.
For more than three decades, the 61 years old McCurry has been on the road, producing sensitive and impassioned documentary photographic works across the globe and has been recognized with numerous accolades for his work. His documentary on the Soviet invasion to Afghanistan won him international fame. He also covered, amongst others, the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, and the Yugoslav Wars, and sent reports from Lebanon, Tibet, Yemen, and Cambodia. His iconic photograph of the “Afghan girl” Sharbat Gula, was taken in 1984 near the Nasir Bagh refugee camp and first appeared on the cover of National Geographic. His career was launched when, wearing native clothing, he crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled Afghanistan just before the Russian invasion. When he emerged, he had rolls of film sewn into his clothes that contained some of the world’s first images of the conflict. His coverage won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad Showing Courage and Enterprise. Since 1986, Steve McCurry has been a member of the renowned photographic agency Magnum.
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG, explains why Steve McCurry was chosen as the first awardee of the Leica Hall: the reason is his indefatigable commitment to a kind of reportage photography focusing on the sufferings and inhuman concomitants of acts of war: “More than almost anyone else, Steve McCurry has recorded the terrible consequences of war and persecution and has thus had decisive influence on our perception of world affairs for decades. For his work, he deserves our thanks and recognition.”
The Leica Hall of Fame Award, which has now been awarded for the first time, stands in a tradition of earlier awards initiated by Leica Camera AG to honor outstanding photographers. The prize is awarded to photographers who have rendered outstanding services to the Leica brand and to the genre of photography. The prize shall be awarded sporadically without competition and without the decision of a jury.
The Leica M9-P is a particularly robust version of the M9 reportage camera. The specialty of the Leica M9-P: for the sake of inconspicuousness, Leica’s signature feature, the characteristic red point, has been avoided. The camera also features a sturdy sapphire glass display to withstand the harshest working conditions. Many reportage photographers from all over the world use the cameras of Leica’s legendary M range finder camera system but paste the brand logo over to avoid attracting attention during their field work.