Photographing the hopes and fears of Afghan people

Photographer Jens Umbach has since 2010 been documenting the presence of German soldiers in Afghanistan.

Photography veteran Jens Umbach began photographing German soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010. The project culminated in 2014 as a large-scale exhibition at the Museum of Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, Germany. The book “Afghanistan” was released at the same time and was nominated for the 2015 German photobook award. As the follow-up to this journey, Umbach travelled to Afghanistan again to photograph Afghans living in the vicinity of Camp Marmal, where the German forces are stationed.

“I wanted to directly examine how their lives had been affected by the ISAF presence. My team and I spent two weeks exploring the region, erecting our pop-up photo studio at roadsides, deserts, fields and courtyards to photograph the local population,” writes Umbach.

He collected a number of portraits which will be on display at the Leica gallery during the Photokina 16 photo expo. For more longevity, Umbach has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a photo book.

“Photographing these remarkable individuals, learning about their lives, and helping others to connect with their stories has been the most rewarding and profound experience of my life. I am now looking for your help in turning this project into a lasting archive that can still be shared after the exhibition ends,” he says.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations in December 2001.