These portraits were made on April 18 of last year, and represent my first sole visit to this beautiful area. Prior to this my trip included a driver and my wonderful friend, Asrar Ahmad. This time around my friend was unable to come, so we (me and my trusted driver) took the chance and headed to this contested area on our own.
To say that our hesitation was unfounded would be an understatement. Our hosts treated us like princes, and took us to some of the camps from the previous year, as well as some of the villages. We were able to photograph some of the most beautiful children in the world, including these three girls.
Sometimes I forget how difficult the lives of girls are in this part of the world. It takes a documentary at times placing girls such as them in the same footage as the Taliban for me to realize that they face some of the most difficult scenarios in the world.
I get enchanted by their exquisite expressions in front of the lens, and the isolation of their simple portraits. Once in front of the lens they are in a different world, it is theirs to possess. In this world they can communicate their feelings, smile when they want to and do so without repercussions.
It takes a stern man walking by to snap them back into their world, and for me to see the change. Such are the expressions in this series, as the girls are walking a thin line between two worlds… one in which they are nearly invisible and one in which they are revered as the highest forms of the girl spirit.
So here are three girls and six expressions, as they presented themselves to the camera over one year ago.