Afghanistan is one of the last places on earth where photographers used a simple type of instant camera called the kamra-e-faoree for means of making a living. The hand-made wooden camera is both camera and darkroom in one and generations of Afghans have had their portraits taken with it, usually for identity photographs. At one stage it was even outlawed when former rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban, banned photography, forcing photographers to hide or destroy their tools.
The aim of the Afghan Box Camera Project is to provide a record of the kamra-e-faoree. To this end you will find instructions on how to use and build a kamra-e-faoree, general background information on the camera and photography in Afghanistan, in addition to Afghan photography in Pakistan; a variety of photo-galleries and photographer portfolios, and links to resources – as well a big thank you to all of those kind folk who helped us along the way. We also delve just a little into large format photography in Afghanistan and hand-coloured portraits.
The information we provide is based on two visits to Afghanistan: the first between April and June 2011 which focused on the capital Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, and the second between May and June 2012 which again saw us visit Kabul, in addition to Herat, Jalalabad and Peshawar in Pakistan. Added to this have been our previous visits to the country and region over the years, and ongoing research.
The project is the work of Lukas Birk and Sean Foley.