Nearly everyone has seen photographer Steve McCurry’s striking 1985 National Geographic cover portrait of Afghan refugee Sharbat Gula, but it was nearly left on the cutting room floor. He revels the story behind the picture in his new book, “Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs.”

McCurry only took a handful of frames before the young girl got up. Editors at National Geographic came close to picking a different image for their cover. The photo editor at the time chose an image with Gula’s hands covering her face, but the magazine’s editor made a change at the last minute.

An alternate frame by McCurry that almost made the cover of National Geographic in 1985.

In more than 30 years as a photographer, McCurry has covered war zones to natural disasters, but he’ll be remembered for the shot of "The Afghan Girl" with piercing green eyes. 

National Geographic cover shot of Afghan refugee Sharbat Gula (left) and photographer Steve McCurry (right).

He told TODAY: "I knew it was a powerful portrait. But I never dreamed in a million years this would become an iconic photograph."