Faces of Afghanistan

“A landscape might be denuded,
a human settlement abandoned or lost,
but always,
just beneath the ground lies history of preposterous grandeur. . .
They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted
humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud.”
–  The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer

_PBS6026_es (1)Kabul



AFGHN-12331NF (1)Panjshir Valley

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

AFGHN-12691NF2 (1)Kabul



God must have loved Afghans because he made them so beautiful.
– Unknown

PAKISTAN-10003Peshawar, Pakistan Afghan refugee 




AFGHN-12244NF (2)Kunduz


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



AFGHN-10242 (1)Kandahar



AFGHN-10060, Pul-i-Khumri, Afghanistan, 1992. A bandaged wounded boy.Pul-e-Khumri




A French man who worked for the ICRC had been to inspect one of Kabul’s
prisons to
check on the conditions of the prisoners.
After their names had all been verified, he noticed a door which had remained unopened for the inspection. 

The prison guard had been reluctant to open it;
behind it was just an old man in solitary confinement, he had said.
But it was the man’s job to count the prisoners, and he insisted on being shown inside.

When the door was open, he caught sight of a half-naked old man in the freezing and windowless cell.
The old man had tottered to his feet, lifted the scrap of cloth on which he sat,
brushed the dust from it and stepped back, smiling, to offer the space to his guest.
– Jason Elliott, An Unexpected Light


Beetles & Huxley Gallery
London, UK
12 May through 7 June 2014

148 Responses to “Faces of Afghanistan”

  1. I am very fascinated by your photography !
    You photography inspires me to travel ……I want to travel around mainly the ASIAN belt
    South East Asia, Afghanistan,Iran

  2. These photos are stunning and a real glimpse into this world. Thank you for sharing.

  3. […] Photo: Steve McCurry […]

  4. There’s a lovely poetry in these photographs, they look as a sweet personal diary and they are as simple as great..
    Thanks a lot.

  5. All I can say is I am in love with your photography !

  6. eyes speaks the word of heart!!! Each one is like straight away looking into your eyes and having a silent yet a strong conversation!

  7. […] ensaio Faces Of Afghanstain (Faces do Afeganistão), são documentos visuais de pessoas comuns em uma terra que tem enfrentado […]

  8. This is a wonderful presentation of a people …. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  9. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    …… and these are the people the “great countries” is are fighting?? Leave tyem alone!!

  10. Reblogged this on Fran Correa Yitani and commented:
    Aunque siempre escribo y pongo entradas totalmente mías, quise dejarles aquí un blog increíble del fotógrafo Steve McCurry. Un gran retratista.

  11. […] Faces of Afghanistan by Steve […]

  12. Argentina Gutierrez Says:

    Divinas las retinas de Steve . Gracias !

    2014-06-02 15:41 GMT-03:00 Steve McCurry’s Blog :

    > stevemccurry posted: ““A landscape might be denuded, a human > settlement abandoned or lost, but always, just beneath the ground lies > history of preposterous grandeur. . . They are everywhere, these > individuals of undaunted humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud.” – > “

  13. very emotion,ciao.

  14. An amazing series, with every photo having something special about it. I must say, though, that one of the first that made me look twice is that street style shot of the little girl peeking out from in between the two covered women in blue. Wonderful timing!

  15. Learned to appreciate portrait photography once started following you. You are the real maestro:)

  16. Very good and authentic!

  17. June 17, 2014
    Steve Mc Curry – I keep looking at these pictures over and over again . I just look at the faces and how incredible the people look as mysteries to me. I want so desperately with respect to sit and listen to them. I wish I could understand their language well enough to say kind words of comfort in some way. The elderly are to be respected. I am a teacher and what I would give to help nurture a hungry mind full of natural curiosity and imagination. The older kids forced to become older too fast, I would love to give guidance and help them read good stories that would help too. I would love to teach them to cook , garden , clean and care for each other and eventually years away, to trust a little. It seems our president and others are so quick to give up on people that have never had a chance. With the awful developments that have occurred , I am so afraid for everyone who are civilized in Afghanistan and Iraq and other parts of the Middle East . You were there, is there anything we can do ??? I am praying for so many everyday. I feel so hopeless and helpless. Thank you for bringing these pictures and your words to enlighten us. Knowledge is half the problem solved. How could we fix something we did not know about. I hate being kept ignorant by our government. Bless you…

  18. […] an schönen Dingen erfreuen können, gibt es Länder, in denen gar nichts selbstverständlich ist. Steve McCurry erinnert mit seinen Porträts aus Afghanistan […]

  19. You do incredible work. thank you.

  20. Reblogged this on skemerlig.

  21. Kelly Faria Says:

    Belo trabalho!

  22. You are amazing. It’s in their “eyes”. It is like traveling back several hundred years through them. They are “timeless”

  23. Reblogged this on ideas, books, people and commented:
    God must have loved Afghans because he made them so beautiful.
    – Unknown

    (c) Steve McCurry

  24. Breathtaking. Thank you Steve

  25. Anonymous Says:

    Thank You!

  26. […] portraits of people from all over the world who hail from all walks of life, but his series titled Faces of Afghanistan is especially […]

  27. Fantastically compelling images! That poor injured child just tugs at my heartstrings.

  28. Tobias 2010 Says:

    I always take the time to slowly look at each shot, when a new posting arrives in the mail. All your work is beyong praise. But today’s selection moved me yet deeper than any previous. Maybe because I just had read on Guardian about yet another terrorist attack and all the backlash from it? And then saw that sad looking child with the blood? I don’t know….

    It’s not inspiring as much as deeply, sadly, profoundly and painfully touching how you connect us with the lives of those fellow humans, who are usually statistics or collateral damage in those stories the news agencies, even the ones with the best intentions, report.

    Since we now live in an age where apparently nothing will ever be lost again (not sure that is correct, but I’m sure it’s correct for your work) your work will stand as timeless testament to the humanity of our times.

  29. Great work as always , your photos always tell me how close you are to your subject and how you get involve and feel their life. Your work gives me goose bumps . Bowing down. Accept it.

  30. Peter Dombrowsky Says:


    On Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 1:41 PM, Steve McCurry’s Blog wrote:

    > stevemccurry posted: ““A landscape might be denuded, a human > settlement abandoned or lost, but always, just beneath the ground lies > history of preposterous grandeur. . . They are everywhere, these > individuals of undaunted humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud.” – > “

  31. Anonymous Says:

    As always a superb and very human set of photographs.

  32. A real and beautiful travel throught Afghanistan…Fantastic pictures!

  33. Reblogged this on Irenadawn and commented:
    I hope you don’t mind reblogging this for more to see your magnificent album Andy study on dcoplin7.wordpress.com

  34. SameerRao Says:

    Great work Steve,as usual. I hope peace returns to this beautiful country soon. Your images are the major source for us to experience the beauty of Afghanistan and the resilient people of that country

  35. Your work and passion is a continuing source of inspiration. Thank you.

  36. pradeep kumar Says:

    great pictures and it is really touching.

  37. Khurram Saeed Naik Says:

    awesome images!

  38. Wow. Just, wow!

  39. Mansukh Says:

    Truly amazing photos !! They say a picture paints a thousand words, I say a picture paints a trillion words!

  40. Anonymous Says:

    stupende un reportage strepitoso complimenti

    • fotoamatore Domenico Orfitelli Says:

      A volte le parole non servono per esprimere un messaggio ho un emozione queste fotografie raccontano la storia di chi le ha vissute Complimenti

  41. ze alberto Says:

    beautiful sad poetry

  42. Anonymous Says:

    very touching images…wish I could also infuse emotions such as these in my images too!!!

  43. Breathtaking! My own articles on Faces of Poverty mirror these. http://locagringa.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/faces-of-poverty/ Different location and no oppression exist here. These people are so somber. My heart weighs heavily. Where my people are poor, at least they have joy and happiness.

  44. Absolutely touching photos, storytelling eyes and faces that just leave you breathless. Thank you for sharing these pictures and the thoughts. As a viewer you can feel only deep empathy and affection for these people.

  45. Anonymous Says:

    Your work moves me to tears. So soulful, each with a hidden story, yet so open and real. What a touching story of the imprisoned man offing his only comfort to another. Western culture has much to learn…

  46. Thank you for sharing these images with us.

  47. As always…. touching the heart and soul.

  48. This album is so incredible! The faces are hypnotic . Your words about the strength and endurance of the Aphghan people bring such emotion from inside of my heart. I will be looking at your work over and over. From all the time the Americans have been there, I have seen very little up close documentary type photography. It is so surreal when you can finally study the beauty in the faces of the beloved people we have tried so hard to help. I feel I can’t trust our government or media. So I do not know if we have helped or if they all really want us gone. I look at the faces of these children and I see old souls through their sad eyes. In some I still see hope but most are taking on adult jobs already. It breaks my heart . I love your work. Thank you for risking so much to share this very important collection and more. I can’t imagine what you have been through. Sincerely, Irenadawn

  49. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  50. Slaney Says:


  51. A wonderful selection

  52. justin Says:

    compassionate and electric photography showing beauty shining through pain and suffering

  53. Beautiful photos!

  54. Que dire …
    Emouvantes photographies , j’en ais le coeur serré !
    Félicitations , comme d’habitude vos photos parlent !

  55. Matthys Says:

    I love the deep and rich colors and texture of these pictures – it invites one to look into those eyes – feel the emotion. One can only produce this type of involved portraiture if your intention is pure and from the heart. Do you do any post -processing so as to attain the richness?

  56. Helen Walsh Says:

    I am lost for words. These pictures have just taken my breath away. WOW>>>>>

  57. speechless….

  58. speechless…..

  59. vaibhav nadgaonkar Says:


  60. Sublime work! Your portraits pierce the soul!

  61. Naqibullah Muslih Says:

    Wonderful photography of the people of Afghanistan. But whole afghans are not like that.

  62. wow. sadness, sadness, sadness. and beauty. thank you for these pictures.

  63. odedwagen Says:

    ‏בתאריך יום שני, 2 ביוני 2014, Steve McCurry’s Blog כתב:

    > stevemccurry posted: ““A landscape might be denuded, a human > settlement abandoned or lost, but always, just beneath the ground lies > history of preposterous grandeur. . . They are everywhere, these > individuals of undaunted humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud.” – > “

  64. Madani Says:

    Thank you for honoring them. Those people are victims of a war which they never wanted.

  65. Thank you for this wonderful photographic description of these most handsome ,beautiful people of this war torn place.
    God has blessed them with good looks I hope they will now be blessed with peace. God knows it is time, Lord it is time.

  66. Reblogged this on PGS – The Way and commented:
    Once again, Steve McCurry makes us look at the world through compassionate eyes.

  67. Carlos Ribas Monteiro Says:

    Faces with lots of soul: the best I’ve seen for long.
    Thank you.

  68. Anonymous Says:

    God might have loved these people… but why does hee make them suffer so much?

  69. Josephine Sun Says:

    Magnificent! touching and inspiring. Thanks.

  70. I have long been a devoted admirer of Steve’s photographs, and have several of his books, but I think that this latest collection of portraits is the most profoundly moving yet – and that is saying a great deal.

  71. Gokul Nathan Kasinathan Says:

    Eyes speak, felt it:)

  72. Anonymous Says:

    True Afghani’s People …. !!!!!

  73. Reblogged this on sharidoranphotography and commented:

  74. Exactly what Photography is about ”To Tell A Story” and you have captured a story in every image INSPIRATIONAL & AMAZING work xxx

  75. again an amazing set of images…..

  76. Anonymous Says:

    Speechless. Beautiful.

  77. But nobody says, “who did this to the people, to the children, to their land!” And nobody asks, “who did nothing about it?”

  78. Anonymous Says:

    Few people can capture the soul behind the skin on each subject, wonderful work! I hope you can do something about Cuba someday?

  79. Gulbahar Says:

    Super, beautiful photos and faces. They are reality of Afghanistan. Congratulations.

  80. alberto schmidlin Says:

    impresiona, emociona, remece el corazón, pero sus ojos con ilusión

  81. Anonymous Says:

    Foto mozzafiato…..

  82. Anonymous Says:

    good photography

  83. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    Not only does Steve expertly hold these faces within his camera so we can view them forever, he also offers select writings to give added flavor to the viewing. His works are truly a delight for the senses!

  84. Myriad of expressions captured beautifully! The beauty and tragedy of Afghanistan… Thanks for posting and sharing!

  85. bohoclub Says:

    Reblogged this on White Lies.

  86. Carlos Acosta Says:

    Reblogged this on Calle y Foto.

  87. Amazing pictures !

  88. Incredible images Steve. Do you do workshops?

  89. Proud to be one of these people though born and bred a British.

  90. Reblogged this on Giai01's Blog and commented:

  91. Thank you for honoring these people. Through your photographs you remind us that compassion and respect can change attitudes.

  92. Os olhos sao a janela da alma…
    lindas fotos…

  93. Reblogged this on from the easel… and commented:
    I’ve been a huge fan of Steve McCurry’s Portraits for a long time, particularly these exquisite Afghanistan portraits. The expression in the eyes is just captivating.

  94. Rossana Says:

    shots deep into human soul, beautiful eyes expressing many things! thanks fort sharing

  95. sarah Says:

    I really enjoy your blog, but would love a little story about the people you photograph to be included. I want to know their story.

  96. My heart aches and breaks open when I see your photos.

  97. Kirsti A Says:

    Thank you for the wonderful pictures! The images bring back memories of my hippie travels 1968 when climbing and crawling in the caves in Bamyan where the Buddha statues once stood.

  98. Inspiring portraits, Steve, as always. Thanks.

  99. The first thing I look at are they eyes! Beautiful!

  100. click here Says:

    Faces of Afghanistan | Steve McCurry’s Blog

  101. David Bannister Says:

    My God these portraits are exquisite! They represent the often untold side of of a difficult history. Thank you, thank you.

  102. Cataldo Says:

    Bellissime foto complimenti.

  103. Impressive set of photo’s. Thanks for sharing.

  104. Anonymous Says:


  105. Giovanni Says:

    bellissime fotografie che mi portano un mondo cosi lontano e diverso dal mio. Grazie

  106. great pictures, really

  107. I feel this work as a respect on people non rich expressing surprise and innocence.Is funny big blue eyes in

  108. I see souls in your photos. They all tell a story that words would not be able to tell. Thank you

  109. Jill Carter Says:

    Fantastic exhibition! Those pictures tell the history more graphically than any news show.

    Jill On 2 Jun 2014 19:41, “Steve McCurry’s Blog” wrote:

    > stevemccurry posted: ““A landscape might be denuded, a human > settlement abandoned or lost, but always, just beneath the ground lies > history of preposterous grandeur. . . They are everywhere, these > individuals of undaunted humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud.” – > “

  110. Great portrait collection

  111. Anonymous Says:

    Great portrait collection

  112. The Afghani people are kings and queens in simple clothes.

  113. Adeline Says:

    Inspirational! I was always fascinated by Afghanistan and its people and wanted to travel there…it hasn’t happened yet…I’ll go on Fri to see the exhibition. Thank you so much

  114. Painful

    On Monday, June 2, 2014, Steve McCurry’s Blog wrote: > stevemccurry posted: “”A landscape might be denuded, a human settlement abandoned or lost, but always, just beneath the ground lies history of preposterous grandeur. . . They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud.” – ” >

  115. Alain Says:

    It is really a very Nice picture, thank you for this work.

  116. Dignity is a beautiful thing.

  117. Reblogged this on Wonder and Beauty and commented:
    Profound . . . as always. (Make sure to see the whole post.)

  118. Esstelle Says:

    With what soul feeling you have captured these beautiful and sometimes very sad faces of human beings who are
    experiencing life in a unloving environment. Thank you for sharing.

  119. Amazing photos. Great quotes from Jason Elliot and Khaled Hosseini to go with them. Thank you for so much important work over the years, Steve McCurry.

  120. MacLindhe Says:

    More than fantastic portraits. Masterpieces!

  121. Thank you Steve for your wonderful photography.

  122. Stunning photos once again. I look forward so much to receiving your photo blogs.

  123. Robert Says:

    Reblogged this on Sol Invictus and commented:
    Please see this very nice blog post of one of my very favorite places in the world.

  124. Marilee Pittman Says:

    In each face I read something inexpressible, but sadly none of it happy.


  126. Beautiful, intense, speaking photos and faces! So much said with several words! Great post! Thank you.

  127. Emily Rayson Says:

    There’s a reason he’s the best. And some of his images are slightly soft.

    Date: Mon, 2 Jun 2014 18:41:52 +0000 To: ekrayson@hotmail.com

  128. […] Rostros afganos, por Steve McCurry   […]

  129. I Have this reblogged on http://ramblingbrother.com

    Wonderful … and I hope you don’t mind the reblogging, if not so, please contact me.

    Best Gegards


  130. Oh Steve… and you suddenly bring in that injured child and remind us of the grim realities of this beautiful land and wonderful people….

  131. Great treatment!

  132. Cannot wait to go and see this exhibition on Saturday!!!!

  133. Fantastic, inspirational shots as always Steve. There’s definite film feel to some of these. (Shot on film as opposed to having come from a movie – but could be either I guess!)

  134. Gustavo Umaña Says:


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