Best photos from Afghanistan

Image credit: Stephen Dupont, Ahmed Shah Massoud. Afghanistan, 1998

We’ve been watching the unfolding, desperate situation in Afghanistan as the United States troops and their allies leave and the Taliban take control of the country. Hundreds of civilians, including journalists and officials, have been injured or killed in targeted attacks. Many photojournalists are posting from Afghanistan, sharing their concerns about the recent events. 

We’ve curated some of the best images taken in Afghanistan and have highlighted where to see more from these brave photojournalists. 

 

Ako Salemi

Female wearing a burqa surrounded by white pigeons

In May 2015, Ako Salemi captured this incredible image of a women, passing by the Roze Sharif holy shrine in Mazār-e Sharīf, Afghanistan. Apart of Salemi’s series’ Afghanistan: The Colour Awakens’. 

Ako Salemi has won multiple awards including the Head On Mobile Prize in 2016

Salemi continues to work as a freelance documentary photographer and more recently a filmmaker. You can follow him here to see his latest work

Adam Ferguson

A young Afghan man, searched and questioned by U.S. Army soldiers in the Tangi Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

Image from Adam Ferguson’s project ‘The War Up Close’ features this image taken on September 8th, 2009. A young Afghan man, searched and questioned by U.S. Army soldiers in the Tangi Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan. 

The Australian photographer, now living in New York, has often photographed in areas of conflict and unrest. 

Adam has won multiple awards and had many exhibitions across the globe. The image 'Ashia, age 14' was a finalist in the Head On Portrait Awards in 2018.

Follow Adam here to see his latest projects. 

 

Lynsey Addario

 Women graduating from Kabul University’s department of language and literature.

The image above was photographed in 2010. Women graduating from Kabul University’s department of language and literature.  

In 2000, American photojournalist Lynsey Addario was curious about the lives of women living under the Taliban. Partnering with Stephine Sinclair and Too Young To Wed. Addario has been advocating the safe evacuation and resettlement for high-risk Afghan women.  

Addario has won numerous international awards and named “One of the five most influential photographers in the past 25 years” - American Photo Magazine, 2015. 

Follow her here to see her latest projects. 

 

Paula Bronstein

Lady holding her nephew in her lap

 

Taken in Kabul, Afghanistan. Najiba holds her nephew Shabir. Injured from the impact of a bomb, that killed his sister on March 29, 2016. Najiba cared for Shabir as his sister was being buried by his mother. 

She exhibited her work with Head On Photo Festival 'Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear' in 2018. The images in the exhibition recorded the lives of Afghan people against the backdrop of a brutal and protracted war.  

Paula continues to work in Kabul on assignment for Getty Images documenting the current Taliban takeover. Also currently working with The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, POLITICO Magazine and BBC News.  

Follow Paula here to see the latest 

 

Annette Widitz

landscape shot

As Annette was descending into Kabul, she captured this incredible image of the landscape in Afghanistan. The beauty from afar, a large contrast of the stark reality and challenges Afghanistan people face in everyday life. 

A finalist in the 2020 Landscape Photo Awards, Annette’s image titled’ 'Afghanistan Aerial I' by Annette,  is incredibly mesmerising and beautiful.  

"It made me think of how much this contrasted with the reality on the ground: the complex + ongoing conflict, lack of resources alongside the exceptional hindrances of everyday living. I think of many of the people I met there daily and how they now face an additional and unprecedented threat." 

Follow Annette here to see her latest work. 

 

Stephen Dupont

journal with writing and polaroid of a US marine

During the 15-year journey Stephen documented, one of his greatest projects was ‘Why am I a marine?’. A journal was given to US marines during the war in Afghanistan, to share their story, unprompted and honest.  

Included in the 2011 Head On Photo Festival, this journal has now been acquired by the U.S. Library of Congress. 

Stephen continues to work on long term personal projects. He has earned dozens of prizes, including the W. Eugene Smith Grant, Robert Gardner Fellowship from Harvard University, Robert Capa Gold Medal Citation and several World Press Photo Awards.  

Follow Stephen here to see the latest

 

Farzana Wahidy

young child pointing at females in a burqa

In 2002, Fazana was one of the first female photojournalists in Afghanistan. Since then, she has won multiple photography awards, including the National Geographic All Roads Photography Program Merit Award in 2008. Fazana has continued her photojournalist career and photographs the women and children of Afghanistan.

See more of her work here.

 

Benjamin Lowy

man standing on top of hill looking at kite

Entirely shot on an iPhone, the exhibition 'iAfghanistan', is a collection of powerful images documenting the everyday life of people in Afghanistan. Based in New York City, Lowy has received awards from World Press Photo, POYi, PDN, Communication Arts, American Photographer, and the Society for Publication Design.

Follow Ben here to see his latest work.

 

Gary Ramage

US troop lying with a dog in Afghanistan

Gary Ramage has documented 15 years of war in Afghanistan. In 2010, he captured 20-year-old, US Marine, Brandon Tucker, huddled up to his explosive detection dog Auggie to help keep him warm during the night at Marjah, Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan. 

A finalist in the 2011 Head On Photo Awards, Gary is now working Australia after leaving the mission in Afghanistan on 18 June 2021 

Follow Gary here to see the latest.

 

    Zalmaï

    Man looking into camera

    During the Afghanistan blizzard of 2008, Zalmaï captured what the ‘war on terror’ did to the lives of people living in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan blizzard killed at least 928 people as temperatures fell to a low of -30 C.  

    Zalmaï exhibited 'Dread and Dreams' at Head On Photo Festival in 2018. The images span from 2008-2013.

    Zalmaï continues to work across south-east Asia and has been published by New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Harper's Magazine, Newsweek and La Republica. He worked for several international organizations and NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, UNHCR, ICRC, and the UN Office On Drug and Crime. 

    Follow Zalmaï here to see his latest work.

     

    Andrew Quilty

    child wrapped in fire blanket

    In Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Andrew captured this image of a young girl, victim to an oil lamp burn accident, wrapped in a heat blanket, attempting to cool the body down as she faced severe burns to her entire body. The young girl had an excellent chance of recovery by the time Andrew left Boost Hospital. 

    In 2014, this image was runner up in the Head On Photo Awards, Mobile Category

    Since moving to Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2013, Andrew's photography has been published by World Press Photo, won a Picture of the Year International award of excellence, a Sony World Photography award and six Walkley Awards. He has travelled to two-thirds of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and continues to document the country through pictures and, increasingly, the written word. 

    Follow Andrew here to see the latest