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SAID MUKHTAR & SAIF FARDIN

Said Mukhtar, 30, returned to live in Mazar-e-Sharif from Iran around six ago. In 1998 he fled the city after the Taliban took control, on the heels of a massacre of the local populaton. In Tehran he managed to establish his own photo studio.

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He started working with the kamra-e-faoree at eight years at age - he was so small, he remembers, he needed to stand on a box to take a photo!

As well as taking the standard identity photographs, Said made montages where he placed his client's image alongside famous Indian movie stars. These were popular amongst younger customers, and the technique was such an earner he kept it secret at the time from other kamra-e-faoree photographers eager to cash in on its popularity (see the Techniques section for an explanation).

Unfortuantely, he didn't have any examples of his montages to show us. Below is a mock-up montage we've made to illustrate the technique.

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Nowadays, Said Mukhtar works alongside his cousin, Saif Fardin, in the photo shop of his uncle, Said Mustafa, the father of Said Fardin.

Here's a portrait of Saif (right) and his twin brother (left), whom he joked looks like a shuravi - a Russian!

Like his cousin, Saif Fardin and his family left for Iran after the Taliban arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif; before they fled his father destroyed his collection of photographs in case they were discovered by the Taliban; the collection included many pictures of former Afghan royalty.

In Iran, the family settled in the village of Khanooj outside of Bandar Abbas where they had relatives already settled; they returned to Afghanistan three to four years ago.

 

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Saif Fardin's father, Said Mustafa learnt his trade in photography in Herat in the east of Afghanistan years earlier. Returning to Afghanistan from Iran marked a turning point in his life. Unfamiliar with computers, digital photography or English, he decided to opt out of the business, and left it up to his sons to learn how to use the new technology and continue the family business 'post-Photoshop'.

A mock-up of a box camera stands in front of Saif Fardin's shop as an advertisment; Saif's father made it himself.