Featuring 75 previously unpublished photographs, Devotion by Steve McCurry
is a collection of “spiritually inflected” images from around the world, taken during the American photographer’s 40-year career. Being a follower of Buddhism was one reason for McCurry wanting to create this collection.
In the previously unpublished photo ‘Monk Meditates on Train’, which appears in Devotion, we witness a novice monk in Bangkok. The station is somewhere McCurry has visited many times before, and knows particularly well.
“I’ve always been interested in trains and train stations,” he says. “I had used that particular station quite a bit when I first went to Thailand in 1979. There has been talk about ripping it down, so I went there several times just to photograph people coming and going, and the passengers on trains.
“I was fascinated by this young monk who, I guess, was going back to his monastery, sitting there waiting and meditating. Sitting in silence is an integral part of their practice, but it seemed like an unlikely place to meditate.”
McCurry captured the photo on his Leica SL2 with a 24-90mm lens. He was drawn to the even light falling on the monk’s face, and there was enough light elsewhere for the SL2 to work with, without having to push the ISO beyond 3,200.
What McCurry did have to be mindful of was working around the busy train cleaner, and the railway timetable – making sure he could get off if he felt the train starting to move.
Devotion by Steve McCurry is published by Prestel and is priced £50/$65.