Faces of Afghanistan

They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind,
irrepressibly optimistic and proud.
The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Baghlan, Afghanistan

Yet even at their most turbulent, the Afghans have tended to impress
travellers with 
their dignity and hospitality
as much as their fierce independence.
– William Dalrymple,  author of
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839–42


Kunduz, Afghanistan

Kayan, Afghanistan

Baghlan, Afghanistan


This is Abdul Hadi. He is a teacher in the woodworking school of the
Institute of Turquoise Mountain, in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he teaches jali woodwork (latticework). He was a woodworker at the court of the last king of Afghanistan, and then for some 35 years did not have a chance to practice his skills, due to the successive conflicts.

Parwan, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan


In Afghanistan, you don’t understand yourself solely as an individual.
You understand yourself as a son, a brother, a
cousin to somebody, 
an uncle to somebody.
You are part of something bigger than yourself.
– Khaled Hosseini

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Nuristan, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

Children’s Mobile Mini Circus, Kabul, Afghanistan

Pol-e-Khomri, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Charikar, Afghanistan

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Nancy Dupree – 1927  – 2017

    It was a privilege to visit with Nancy Dupree last year in Kabul. I am always inspired by this indomitable woman, who has never stopped working to preserve the history of her beloved Afghanistan. Arriving in the country in the early 1960’s she worked tirelessly to document the history and cultural heritage of the country, first with her husband, Louis Dupree, and then after his death until a few days ago.
    Known as the Grandmother of Afghanistan, she established ACKU, Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, which houses tens of thousands of documents, pictures, and recordings which do not exist anywhere else.    
    I met Nancy and Louis in the early 1980’s, and they were gracious hosts to me – a relatively unknown photographer. Her contribution to Afghanistan cannot be overstated. She was an icon, and will always be remembered by all of us who know her.

Jalalabad, Afghanistan

For Afghans, Allah is the mountain above the mountains, and it is He who entertains the idea- or not- of our next hour on this earth. This, I think, is why the Afghans are reluctant to bet on tomorrow. Tomorrow is not ours to presume upon. Tomorrow is the pleasure of Allah alone.

Insha’Allah. It is this pervasive, finally overpowering feeling that I find the most difficult to convey about Afghanistan. And yet for me, it is this stubborn and unassailable conviction- this ability to endure almost anything- that defines the Afghan soul and my fascination with it. And it is this powerful feeling that draws me there again and again.

 My new book, Afghanistan, published by Taschen is now available.  tsc.hn/05326in

About Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry, recognized universally as one of today’s finest image-makers, has won many of photography’s top awards.
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61 Responses to Faces of Afghanistan

  1. Geneviève says:

    “For Afghans, Allah is the mountain above the mountains, and it is He who entertains the idea- or not- of our next hour on this earth.”

    Mind blowing, what a way to live! and this is evident in your photos over the many years that are shot in Afghanistan.

  2. youngjaeyu says:

    I have seen your pictures for the first time at Magnum Exhibition in Seoul in South Korea.
    Thanks for your Afghanistan’s pictures. It is very amazing and leave a deep impression on me.

  3. teacherkrt says:

    They are in pain…,they make me cry

  4. Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:

  5. samm278 says:

    beautiful and sad pictures.trust in god by this suffering people is appreciable.congrats to you for bringing these faces to the world.

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. Reblogged this on KEY AESTHETICS | the blog and commented:
    Inspirational Photo to Paint. Thanks.

  8. Congratulation for your amazing work and talent! It is so important what you are doing -first of all – it is education! Maybe people will understand the tragic condition and the power to survive of those from Afghanistan…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Having worked in aid programs in the refugee camps in Pakistan, then in various locations in Afghanistan for most of the last 30 years, I treasure every one of your photos Steve: yourself a legend among Afghans for such respectful, culturally sensitive photos. Your photos that so much tug my heart are the boys working in the caravanserai mechanic’s shops, one of the many subjects I worked on over the years…trying to get the master mechanics to make sure these little ‘apprentice’ guys got basic schooling, food and medical attention. It is also moving to see my dear friend Nancy Dupree, who I started working with in the 80’s in Peshawar. Here’s hoping her work will be carried on into the future as expertly as she set it up to be. Thanks for such a wonderful look at the people I admire most on the whole earth.

  10. Anna Mercedes says:

    Really beautiful.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Do you have a Twitter site that I might follow?
    Absolutely fabulous photos

  12. alexandra says:

    Amazing photos of beautiful faces. Do you know if the child with red hair an afghan?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Amazing photos and faces. Is the redheaded boy an afghan?

  14. cecile53 says:

    The portraits of the children.., they make me cry. There is so much pain in their eyes and too much wisdom.

  15. Congratulations on your new publication! Interestingly enough, what you describe is true for other People, too. Maybe it says more of human nature than it does about Afghanistan per se, and yet, Afghanistan is a good reflection of the indomitable determination of so many, all around the globe. Thank you.

  16. Absolutely amazing pictures and what a story!

  17. Margaret Mair says:

    The dignity and spirit you write of come shining through in your photographs. They show us both the spirit of the people you picture and some of the difficulty of their circumstances. That ability to show people as they are, wherever they are, is extremely important in the divided world we live in, placing a spotlight on our shared humanity. Thank you.

  18. every photo mr.mac takes is intended to fill the soul of whomever views it.

    as a photographer myself his work is a classroom for me.

  19. Pingback: Faces of Afghanistan | Info For You

  20. annicaaktiv says:

    Wow so beautiful! 🙂

  21. annicaaktiv says:

    Very beautiful! 🙂

  22. Vivian Clark says:

    Stunning. Portraits that touch emotions and go deep in the heart.

  23. Thank you for your strong and deep photographs. I am always delighted to view your profound work.

  24. Mansukh Shah says:

    Thank you Stevebhai for these excellent pictures. They are truly amazing and each one leaves you deep in thought.
    The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

  25. Margarida Marques says:

    Beautiful people in such hard environment …

  26. Anonymous says:

    What an incredibly beautiful collection. Such beautiful beings ❤

  27. Tanya says:

    I always found Afghans very attractive..

  28. Reblogged this on Giorgio Gherardi Photography and commented:
    great images and text

  29. Myrna says:

    Beautiful images. Your deep love for Afghanistan makes your photographs even more meaningful.

  30. As a pro photographer, you are my hero. Especially on my recent trip to India, I was reminded of your images, being encouraged of different angles photographing people. Thank you for ever for your amazing creations.

  31. ksbeth says:

    these are absolutely stunning, steve –

  32. I recently did a “faces” post of some of the people I have managed to photograph on our trips. I loved writing it. Your pictures are amazing and pure. Wonderful work and thanks so much for sharing! Beautiful.

  33. Eileen says:

    Amazing faces of infinite variety. They truly do represent a sampling of humanity. These touched me deeply. My grandson taught in Afghanistan several years ago, but it became too dangerous and they had to close the school. Thank you.

  34. Stunning does not begin to describe these photos and the people. I have no words…

  35. Jane Lurie says:

    Magnificent portraits and tribute to the Afghan people. Sorry for the loss of your friend who has done such good work for her country. A moving post, Steve, thank you.

  36. Stunning photos. To capture such variation is a testament to your skill and dedication.

  37. Gracias por compartir tus fotografias . Te admiro mucho . BENDICIONES Steve

  38. Running Elk says:

    Reblogged this on Shamanic Paths and commented:
    Afghanistan has long been a crossroads, through which so many peoples of the world have passed. If you can’t see the face of your family, or your friends, or your neighbours in this wonderful portrait of the Afghani people, you haven’t looked closely enough…

    “In Afghanistan, you don’t understand yourself solely as an individual. You understand yourself as a son, a brother, a cousin to somebody, an uncle to somebody. You are part of something bigger than yourself. – Khaled Hosseini.”

    Steve Mc Curry’s images should emind us, we are all cousins…

  39. lasatastudio says:

    I just love Steve McCurry’s photography. He does work at the Santa Fe Photography Studio wher eI take classes.

    *Jane Lucien-Scholle*

    On Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 1:28 PM, Steve McCurry’s Blog wrote:

    > Steve McCurry posted: “They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted > humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud. – The Carpet Wars, > Christopher Kremmer Yet even at their most turbulent, the Afghans have > tended to impress travellers with th” >

  40. vyrgrl1 says:

    These folks are so beautiful

  41. Paolo says:

    foto bellissime ed emozionanti

  42. paula graham says:

    Oh my, oh my everyone of these photos a winner…stunning.

  43. afrikafrau says:

    big compliment admire your beautiful art work

  44. Epi B says:

    Awesome pictures. In the purest sense. I am in awe.

  45. Anonymous says:

    always beautiful and inspiring! Thank you sir!

  46. Debra Grandle says:

    On our way to Uzbekistan & will be one hour from the Afghan border in Termez & Boysun for part of the month. Memories of Kabul in the 70’s! Debra & Denny

    Sent from my iPhone


  47. leegschrift says:

    To bring soul in your pictures, gives every time I look at them a warm feeling.

  48. Klausbernd says:

    Very strong and excellent portraits!

  49. Bikram says:

    Lovely photos, I love your shots sir, I always try to learn from your shots. Thanks for sharing & inspiring.

  50. Beautiful work. If I may I share my work ‘Faces of Iran’ with you: narguessmoasser.com
    I hope to expand on this soon again into Chapter 2.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pictures of some lovely people. Their soul shines through. What talent you have!! Do you speak Farsi?

  52. artnexus says:

    You made me cry, but I thank you… I also love Afghanistan, where I spent quite a bit of time in the 70s. BEFORE the endless wars. I was so impressed with the people. They had this independent spirit, free and proud.

  53. cupcakecache says:

    Thank you for showing the true faces.

  54. Bo Johnsson says:

    There is a special glow to your pictures, I love them.

  55. Marilee Pittman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your love of this beleaguered country.

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