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Afgan Photographer Abdul Haq Baratali and His Box Camera

  • Abdul Haq Baratali

    Afgan Box Camera

    Has the Afghan Box Camera Finally Met Its Match?
    The unique portrait-maker has survived wars, invasions, and fundamentalist tyranny. But digital photography may be too much to overcome.
    by Lynzy Billing

    The 69-year-old photographer is sitting on the porch outside his cluttered one-story house on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, remembering when he was six years old. Back then he had to use whatever was on hand—usually cameras from the Soviet Union, which he borrowed from his sister’s husband.

  • Baratali has photographed thousands of people over the years, from generals and children to popular singers and police officers. Lynzy Billing


  • The Taliban banned photography in the 1990s, calling it an affront to Islam. Displaying an image became a crime punishable by beating or imprisonment. Robert Nickelsberg / The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

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