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ASAD ULLAH  

At 62, the little brother of fellow photographer Muhammad Usman, who works only a few doors up the street, and the son of Muhammad Aman, who is the former teacher of Baba Sher - one of the oldest living photographers to have used the kamra-e-faoree in Kabul - clearly admires the Afghan photographers of the past.

"They were first!" Asad Ullah says, "and I am third" referring to his what he considers his rank amongst the generations of Afghan photographers.

"We had such skillful and prestigious photographers; customers would come from abroad to model for portraits: from India and other countries!"

And the technology, he is certain, was more difficult to use.

"In that time, it was very difficult. They had certain types of cameras from India where they cut the film in the darkroom and put it in the camera and 'glass plate' cameras."

Compared to such people, Asad Ullah says, he wouldn't call himself a photographer.

"And they're all dead," he adds with end-of-era finality, "my teachers."

Most of Asad Ullah's material links to the Afghanistan's photographic past have also been severed.

During the civil war his home and photo-studio were destroyed, as were all of his family photographs including his father's entire photo collection: "All the kings of Afghanistan and India from the last one hundred and fifty years!"

Nowadays, Asad Ullah spends a lot of his time retouching and repairing old photographs on a computer in his studio - and he is a deft hand at doing so. Here's a film of Asad photoshopping a box camera photograph.

And though he works mostly on computers nowadays he still holds onto his youthful memories with fondness and remembers clearly when he roamed the country with a kamra-e-faoree. Here's a clip of Asad Ullah recollecting his youthful travels; he also shows us his muscles - because you need strong muscles to shoulder a kamra-e-faoree over the mountains of Badakhshan!

 

 

And here's a map showing where Badakhshan is.

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