Farzana Wahidy: The ‘I’ rather than the ‘Other’

Born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1984, photographer Farzana Wahidy was only a teenager when the Taliban took over the country in 1996. At age 13 she was beaten in the street for not wearing a burqa, she recalls, and she describes those years as a “very closed, very dark time.”

I try to show the bigger image, not just show we have problems,” she says. “And we do have a lot of problems, but I do want to show normal daily life.”

Wahidy focuses on women. “This subject was important to me because I am a woman,” she says, recognizing an advantage that gives her. When she wants to document their lives, “it’s easier for a woman to get access,” she says.

Photographing the ‘I’ rather than the ‘other’ initially stumped me, what does that mean?! What is this ‘I’ and what is the ‘other’ were thoughts tumbling through my head. However, after reading  “Subject and Style” from Andy Grundberg’s “Crisis of the real” book, I began to grasp the meaning of the subject a little more. Find the photographers whose true selves and personalities shine through their work, no one can capture your life better than yourself, photograph what you know. Wahidy truly demonstrates this. Above are her breath taking images of the women of Afghanistan, who better to capture the truth than her? Below are her photos taken in the Canadian Arctic and in my opinion they are not very strong images at all. The passion and love that shines through the ‘I’ is just void in the ‘other’. You need that insiders insight and full access to truly capture the essence of everyday life on such a personal scale.

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