The Afgan Girl 

National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry took the photo in 1984 in a refugee camp in Pakistan. The young woman’s portrait was used as the face of the cover article “Along Afghanistan’s War-Torn Frontier.”
In the April 2002 article titled “A Life Revealed” by Cathy Newman, McCurry recalls shooting the photograph and notes he did not know at the time the photograph would be anything special. Newman describes the photograph this way, “The portrait by Steve McCurry turned out to be one of those images that sears the heart […]. Her eyes are sea green. They are haunted and haunting, and in them you can read the tragedy of a land drained by war.”
Lutz and Collins would categorize the young woman’s penetrating stare as the non-Western subject’s gaze; this type in which the photographed subject confronts the camera make up, according to Lutz and Collins, 25% of the photos depicting non-Western subjects. The difficulty of course is how to understand what this particular confrontation signifies: hostility, vulnerability, shared humanity?
In January 2002 McCurry returned to Pakistan with National Geographic Television and Film’s Explorer in search of the woman whom he photographed in 1984. Neither McCurry nor anyone at National Geographic knew her name because women did not give their names to strangers, and so this truly was a search. To find her, McCurry and others showed Pakistanis and Afghans the cover photo, and eventually she was located. National Geographic discovered her name is Sharbat Gula.
If you read the article on-line, this is the main image on the article’s first page
But here’s the cover for the June 2002 issue:It’s beautiful and arresting, but so troubling.
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