The street photographers of Afghanistan

Figure 1 - An Afghan Street Photographer in 2001.  From the Wikipedia Commons, picture by User bluuurgh and in placed in the public domain by the photographer under creative commons license.

Figure 1 – An Afghan Street Photographer in 2001. From the Wikipedia Commons, picture by User bluuurgh and in placed in the public domain by the photographer under creative commons license.

There was a time when you could walk down the street and photographers with large box cameras would offer to take your photograph. This was most prevalent at heavily trafficked tourist sites.  And I guess that the modern equivalent is going to an amusement park like Disney World and getting your family’s picture snapped as you plummet terrified in the dark confines of a roller coaster ride. But in most, probably all, places on Earth the large box camera is yielding to the digital world and a rapidly vanishing anachronism.

Afghanistan is one of the few places on Earth where these street photographers remaining – even there we must ask for how long.  The Afghan street photographers use a simple type of instant camera, which they call a kamra-e-faoree.  What is most fascinating is that these hand-built contractions serve as both camera and darkroom.  After taking your picture the photographer places a black cloth over the camera, opens a side door, and develops the image.  One of these Afghan photographer is shown in Figure 1.

It is all really fascinating. And it is the aim of the Afghan Box Camera Project  to create a lasting record of the methods and the work of these dedicated photographers.  On the Afghan Box Camera website you can find instructions on building and  using a kamra-e-faoree, as well as background on the history of Afghan street photographer, and most significantly extensive examples of the work of these street photographers.  If you think that large format photography is difficult to practice when you have all the advantages of modern cameras and materials visit this site.

This entry was posted in History of Photography, Reviews and Critiques.

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  1. By Mall photographers | Hati and Skoll Gallery on April 10, 2014 at 6:35 am

    […] in February, I blogged about “The Street Photographers of Afghanistan.“  I was at the mall again yesterday and it occurred to me that that while these Afghan […]