The Wakhan corridor — a 140-mile stretch of rural land in Afghanistan — is home to 12,000 residents, many of whom have never seen a camera, let alone had their picture taken. Inspired by a New York Times article that they read about the rarely-visited region, Fabrice Nadjari and Cedric Houin (aka Varial) decided to visit the area and shoot a series of portraits documenting its citizens. First, they took a Polaroid of each of their subjects, followed by another black and white image of the villager holding their own photo. The expressions found in these second shots — which range from embarrassed to proud to blank indifference — are the most fascinating part of the project.
“Those images led us to amazing encounters,” they write of the experience. “We’ll never forget this head of village who left us go on through his territory without a costly escort of his horsemen — a favor almost never granted to foreigners. Nor this old man who was crying while holding us in his arms, not wanting to let us go when we had to leave to go on with our journey.”