“Afghan Box Camera” documents a living form of photography in danger of disappearing forever. Known as the kamra-e-faoree (“instant camera”), Afghanistan is one of the last places on earth where it has continued to be used by photographers as a way of making a living. Hand-made out of wood, it is a camera and darkroom in one, and generations of Afghans have had their portraits taken with it, usually for identity documents. Under the Taliban, with the banning of photography, it was even outlawed, forcing photographers to hide or destroy their tools. Spanning decades, from peacetime to war, box camera photography in Afghanistan exists within a more sophisticated photographic history. The same photographers who ply their trade with the humble kamra-e-faoree may also make large format black and white portraits, which are then hand-coloured with exquisite artistry. With the help of dozens of Afghan photographers, “Afghan Box Camera” illustrates the technique and artistry of a previously untold and visually enthralling photographic culture.
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