I have been fortunate to have travelled and worked in Afghanistan for more than 25 years. When I was a boy, few places represented the entrenched romantic literary and poetic culture that expressed British colonial adventurism and epic noble failure as well as Afghanistan. When I was discovering politics as a teenager the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan and the daily newspapers, morning radio and evening television broadcasts were filled with tales of Afghan heroism in the face of ideological hegemony. Like a small number of other Englishmen of my age I was drawn to Afghanistan like a moth to a distant flame. I have photographed the conflict there it as it evolved from a Soviet occupation to an American occupation via a civil war between competing political ideologies and tribal loyalties and the rise and fall of the Taliban. Few places are as compelling, few are as beautiful and fewer as violent and savage.
On the 13th of September 2001 I flew to Pakistan in transit for Afghanistan on assignment for Newsweek Magazine to cover the US retaliation for the Al Qaeda attacks on New York. I worked in the region photographing violence and despair until Christmas.
During that time I used a small panoramic camera to make landscapes in Afghanistan, motivated by a desire to escape the violence momentarily rather than to create images for publication. I was raised in rural England and I have always found sanctuary in the landscape, even bleak landscapes that wear the scars of violence and war. The rigour of making those pictures kept the darkness out.