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Afghanistan through the lens

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kyle Brasier
  • Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team
I often see the world in 1/250th of a second slice, or a single click of a camera's shutter. In that instant I'm able to capture a moment in time and record it in history. As the photographer for Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, my job is to tell a visual story that encompasses multiple cultures, generations, and a multinational force working to better lives in a war-torn country.

Life here is foreign to what we see in the U.S. and it's hard to comprehend sometimes. As I watch a child drink out of the gutter, or sit in the dirt because he has nowhere else to rest, I see my role as a photographer expand. I'm not just telling the PRT's story; I'm telling theirs.

Capturing imagery is only a small part of what we do as Air Force photographers. The images we collect ultimately become the face of the PRT; they are what people see and how people connect to us.

Capturing that critical moment of time isn't as easy as it seems. To produce the best image possible, we need to understand what someone is doing and why they're doing it. I love spending time with people before I photograph them to gain that feeling. By seeing something through someone else's eyes, the photo conveys emotion.

While working with the Afghans, I've found two groups of people that have emotion flowing in their eyes: the children who've never been ruled by the Taliban, and the elders who lived through the soviet occupation, a civil war, Taliban occupation and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The children here live in conditions we would consider primitive at best, yet they're full of life. The elders have been through so much and it is worn on their faces, but they still have great hope for the future. I think of these people when we complete a school, or work on a road that will connect a village with the district capital, and hope that what I'm doing will play a part in rebuilding this province.

My time with the PRT is short, but the images I produce will live on. My goal is to document this experience so that in 15 or 20 years these photos will become pages of history - something the locals can look at and reminisce, the way we revisit old family photo albums. If I can help change the life of even one person while I'm here, I'll consider my deployment a success.