6 Ace Photogs Shared a Single Roll of Film for Squarespace
One roll of film with 36 exposures shared among six photographers.
Such was the setup for a new campaign from Squarespace. Six world-renown photogs—Steve McCurry, Olivia Arthur, Sabiha Çimen, Bruce Gilden, William Keo and Jacob Aue Sobol—accepted the challenge.
The resulting images are on display via six distinct websites in Squarespace's Magnum Photos Collection. Each one was inspired by an individual photographer's style and approach.
Here, McCurry, the photographer behind the iconic "Afghan Girl" image that graced the cover of National Geographic in the mid-1980s, talks to Muse about the project and the benefits of limitations in photography.
MUSE: Why you were interested in taking part?
Steve McCurry: I was excited by the challenge of capturing my unique perspective using the same camera and roll of film as my peers, and seeing how we would all present our diverse perspectives within these shared constraints.
Squarespace said you could take photos anywhere you wanted. You have famously covered conflicts and cultures throughout the world. But you chose to photograph your wife and daughter at home. Why did you make that choice, and can you tell me a bit about that day?
When I shot these photos, I had just come back from a trip and was about to head out on another, so I wanted to spend the time I had at home with my daughter and wife. The shoot was partly portraiture and partly experimental. In all honesty, I think my daughter would have preferred to be outside, but I photograph her almost every day when I'm home, so she's used to being in front of the camera. We used the shoot day to spend time together as a family and enjoy being home together.
In the digital age, people can snap as many photos as they want without worrying about the cost of buying and developing film. Here, you were sharing one roll of film with other photographers. Are there benefits to having a limited number of shots?
Shooting in film, let alone with a limited number of shots, forces you to perfectly curate the shot and tell a compelling story spontaneously.
In your photography in general, do you shoot a lot of images of a particular subject or situation, or are you more particular as to how many shots you take?
Sometimes less is more, especially in situations when I captured what I thought was already the high point of the situation. Other times, it is important to spend more time to get exactly what I am looking for. That is where patience comes in. Sometimes, the scene I am documenting changes—people move on, the action stops, and the moment is over. Each opportunity is different, and it is my job as a photographer to be wise enough to know when to stop.
How would you advise aspiring photographers to approach their work?
Photograph things that are interesting to you. Photography is like other disciplines: architecture, medicine, music. They all require patience, discipline, hard work and practice.