Editor’s note: This is the third and final part of a photo essay from Kabul and Herat. The two earlier parts included photos and analysis from Kabul and of a Kuchi family outside Herat.

I asked all of my subjects for consent to take their picture, except those people who were far away and small children who I knew would not object. Most of the men in the city said yes, but two men declined, although I already had snapped one before he objected. I asked one of the men why he did not want me to take his photo and he said he does not like it. I knew the boys were just ashamed that a girl wanted to take their photo.

Man standing far from me, Kabul. He was taking a photo of someone else.

The man who didn’t want me to take his picture.

The man who didn’t want me to take his picture.

A small boy followed me for about ten minutes. It was obvious that he wanted me to take his photo, so I asked him and he said yes. This is one of my favorite photos.

The boy following me

Photography for me was more than just fun. It was adventurous and dangerous and sometimes I was afraid. I wanted to take pictures of people without them noticing me. It was also a sociology project because I could see many problems that we have, such as child labor, lack of work safety, pollution of the environment, and other issues. Most important of all, I became aware that I think that there should be a beginning for people to break taboos. There should be women who dare to take pictures and challenge Afghan male culture. I think everyone has a unique way of looking at things and we should not prevent women from exploring their visions. I do not think photography is a male job. I think art is without boundaries and gender should not limit it.

People pour trash on the street instead of the bin, Herat.

Worker safety is in short supply, Herat.

Photography is capturing the instant moment. A photographer should always be ready to take pictures when people least expect it. Photography is the art of courage and daring. It is like learning a new language. When a photographer takes a camera, she has to not be afraid of making mistakes. She should dare to take pictures as easily and fast as she can. Thinking about what others would say or future consequences will ruin the productivity of good images. No matter if the photographer is a man or woman, as long as she is a daring person the community will learn to welcome her approach to photography.

By Mahnaz