The title of this book is a phrase that Steve McCurry uses a lot when talking about his work – he is always trying to capture those 'unguarded moments' when people are at their most unselfconscious. McCurry takes photographs all over the world, for National Geographic magazine as well as his own projects, so this book includes the colours and forms of the Yemen, Mali, Niger, Chad, India, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), France and the former Yugoslavia, among others. The Unguarded Moment is the same size as Phaidon bestseller South Southeast but apart from the wider range of countries and continents covered, a key difference between the two titles is that all of the images in this title are landscape format.
In The Unguarded Moment, people go about their everyday business in extraordinary circumstances and settings, like the young women walking through a dust storm in India, the fishermen casting their nets in the Niger river in Mali's Sahel Desert and the boy working in a candy factory in Kabul, Afghanistan. This book includes striking portraits of a Tuareg woman in Mali, an intense young gypsy boy in Marseille and pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. There are children paying close attention to their teachers in school rooms in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as well as five young monks happily playing with computer games at a monastery in India, just like any other boys their age would.