They sometimes say that you know you are a success when your product is mimicked, copied or cloned but for the first time I saw this taken to a new level during a trip to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. As I wandered through the night market in Chiang Rai I couldn’t help but notice an artist’s work displayed on one of the roadside stalls with an all-too-familiar image.
Steve McCurry’s iconic image of Sharbat Gula, the “Afghan Girl“, is world famous since it’s first publication on the front cover of National Geographic Magazine in June 1985 (shown below for reference) and is the “most recognized photograph” in the history of the National Geographic Magazine. I am actually proud to say I have my own copy of this photograph purchased from the Steve McCurry Studio which is displayed in my photo studio.
Original Photograph ©Steve McCurry
The very next day during another outing to the upper stretches of the Kok River we had lunch in a simple riverside hut after an elephant trek and in this small, simple restaurant they were also selling local handicrafts and some paintings. Imagine my surprise when yet again Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl” popped up …. this time in a rather more hideous form as you can see.