Photographer Thijs Broekkamp makes fascinating images of daily life in war-torn Afghanistan

The Dutch photographer Thijs Broekkamp no doubt ventured his life to take these photos.

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They show the daily life in Afghanistan – happy traders, children playing in mosques, commuters who are lost in thought – innocent scenes that contrast sharply with the horrific images that the headlines make.

Yet Broekkamp emphasizes that it is almost impossible and very dangerous for Westerners to travel alone & # 39; and that neither he nor his guide told anyone about his itinerary, not even the police.

The Dutch photographer Thijs Broekkamp spent a week traveling through Afghanistan and took fascinating photos of everyday life there. Depicted is a busy road in the city of Herat

The Dutch photographer Thijs Broekkamp spent a week traveling through Afghanistan and took fascinating photos of everyday life there. Depicted is a busy road in the city of Herat

Thijs traveled around with an Afghan guide and said it was & # 39; almost impossible and very dangerous to travel alone & # 39 ;. He broke this statue in Kabul

Thijs traveled around with an Afghan guide and said it was & # 39; almost impossible and very dangerous to travel alone & # 39 ;. He broke this statue in Kabul

Thijs traveled around with an Afghan guide and said it was & # 39; almost impossible and very dangerous to travel alone & # 39 ;. He broke this statue in Kabul

Thijs said: & # 39; For Afghanistan, I wanted to show that despite the war, life still goes on and gives a face to the people behind the war & # 39 ;. Pictured is a busy street in Herat
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Thijs said: & # 39; For Afghanistan, I wanted to show that despite the war, life still goes on and gives a face to the people behind the war & # 39 ;. Pictured is a busy street in Herat

Thijs said: & # 39; For Afghanistan, I wanted to show that despite the war, life still goes on and gives a face to the people behind the war & # 39 ;. Pictured is a busy street in Herat

A trader carries a tray of bread on his head through one of the packed local markets in Kabul. Thijs said: & # 39; People go to work and try to get around it and not sit and feel miserable about their situation all day & # 39;

A trader carries a tray of bread on his head through one of the packed local markets in Kabul. Thijs said: & # 39; People go to work and try to get around it and not sit and feel miserable about their situation all day & # 39;

A trader carries a tray of bread on his head through one of the packed local markets in Kabul. Thijs said: & # 39; People go to work and try to get around it and not sit and feel miserable about their situation all day & # 39;

Men at the bird market in Kabul inspect cages of birds that are for sale. Thijs says that people come to buy the birds to keep as pets or to fight

Men at the bird market in Kabul inspect cages of birds that are for sale. Thijs says that people come to buy the birds to keep as pets or to fight

Men at the bird market in Kabul inspect cages of birds that are for sale. Thijs says that people come to buy the birds to keep as pets or to fight

His surprising images, taken in September last year as part of a journey through central Asia, show a range of scenes, from the busy streets and markets of Kabul to the beautiful Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif and a traditional tile factory in Herat .

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He entered the country by flying to Kabul and explored the capital a few days before visiting the cities of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, the surrounding Balkh and Samangan provinces and the Panshhir Valley.

Thijs traveled with an Afghan guide.

The couple dressed in local clothing to keep their profile low, stayed in local, small hotels and, as said, kept their movements a well-kept secret.

But despite the risks, Thijs was desperate to visit the country.

He told MailOnline Travel: & # 39; For Afghanistan, I wanted to show that life continues despite the war and gives a face to the people behind the war.

Photographer Thijs noted that the bird market in Kabul was buzzing with people in its small alleys and narrow alleys
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Photographer Thijs noted that the bird market in Kabul was buzzing with people in its small alleys and narrow alleys

Photographer Thijs noted that the bird market in Kabul was buzzing with people in its small alleys and narrow alleys

During a trip around Afghanistan, the photographer remained dressed in local clothing to keep a low profile, stayed in local, small hotels and told no one about his itinerary. On the photo some of the cages are for sale at the bird market in Kabul

During a trip around Afghanistan, the photographer remained dressed in local clothing to keep a low profile, stayed in local, small hotels and told no one about his itinerary. On the photo some of the cages are for sale at the bird market in Kabul

During a trip around Afghanistan, the photographer remained dressed in local clothing to keep a low profile, stayed in local, small hotels and told no one about his itinerary. On the photo some of the cages are for sale at the bird market in Kabul

What surprised Thijs the most about the country was how normal life went on despite the fact that it was a war zone

What surprised Thijs the most about the country was how normal life went on despite the fact that it was a war zone

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What surprised Thijs the most about the country was how normal life went on despite the fact that it was a war zone

Three young Afghans pose for the camera in their booth in a bazaar in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Thijs says that men and boys start working from a very young age and he saw a wide range of age groups in the bazaars

Three young Afghans pose for the camera in their booth in a bazaar in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Thijs says that men and boys start working from a very young age and he saw a wide range of age groups in the bazaars

Three young Afghans pose for the camera in their booth in a bazaar in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Thijs says that men and boys start working from a very young age and he saw a wide range of age groups in the bazaars

Thijs traveled to the Panjshir Valley, about 90 miles north of Kabul, where he captured this statue

Thijs traveled to the Panjshir Valley, about 90 miles north of Kabul, where he captured this statue

Thijs traveled to the Panjshir Valley, about 90 miles north of Kabul, where he captured this statue

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& # 39; This project focuses on daily life here that is unknown to many of us. I wanted to approach the country from a positive side. & # 39;

What surprised Thijs the most about the country was how normal life just went on – even though it was a war zone.

He said: & # 39; I had never been to a country that was in such a situation before, but in a war zone, I actually expected everything to be in ruins and life to come to a complete halt.

& # 39; But life goes on. People go to work and try to get through and not sit around and feel miserable about their situation all day.

One of the most beautiful buildings that Thijs saw in the country was the Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif. There he noticed how children played and that people broke selfies and laughed out loud

One of the most beautiful buildings that Thijs saw in the country was the Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif. There he noticed how children played and that people broke selfies and laughed out loud

One of the most beautiful buildings that Thijs saw in the country was the Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif. There he noticed how children played and that people broke selfies and laughed out loud

Thijs said: I really enjoyed visiting the mosques such as the Blue Mosque. They seemed to be [places] removed from all the turmoil of the war. I felt here that I could observe how normal life without war would be & # 39;

Thijs said: I really enjoyed visiting the mosques such as the Blue Mosque. They seemed to be [places] removed from all the turmoil of the war. I felt here that I could observe how normal life without war would be & # 39;

Thijs said: I really enjoyed visiting the mosques such as the Blue Mosque. They seemed to be [places] removed from all the turmoil of the war. I felt here that I could observe how normal life without war would be & # 39;

Thijs says that this incredible image that he has captured of a mother carrying her child next to the Blue Mosque is his favorite. He explained: & # 39; There is the incredible architecture of the mosque and a woman who runs without burqa. She walks into the light, into the sun, hopefully a metaphor for better times & # 39;

Thijs says that this incredible image that he has captured of a mother carrying her child next to the Blue Mosque is his favorite. He explained: & # 39; There is the incredible architecture of the mosque and a woman who runs without burqa. She walks into the light, into the sun, hopefully a metaphor for better times & # 39;

Thijs says that this incredible image that he has captured of a mother carrying her child next to the Blue Mosque is his favorite. He explained: & # 39; There is the incredible architecture of the mosque and a woman who runs without burqa. She walks into the light, into the sun, hopefully a metaphor for better times & # 39;

Three young boys pose for the camera on a vantage point overlooking the city of Herat. Thijs said: & The young generation often approached us on the street and asked me where I come from and what my name was. Some were happy to practice their English and they were very interested and curious & # 39;
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Three young boys pose for the camera on a vantage point overlooking the city of Herat. Thijs said: & The young generation often approached us on the street and asked me where I come from and what my name was. Some were happy to practice their English and they were very interested and curious & # 39;

Three young boys pose for the camera on a vantage point overlooking the city of Herat. Thijs said: & The young generation often approached us on the street and asked me where I come from and what my name was. Some were happy to practice their English and they were very interested and curious & # 39;

& # 39; I almost knew it in the back of my mind, but the images you see in the media are almost exclusively about war and terrorism, so it's hard to imagine anything else.

& # 39; What also surprised me was that a lot of people could speak a few sentences of English, better than any other Central Asian country I had been to.

& # 39; The young generation often approached us on the street and asked me where I come from and what my name was. Some were happy to practice their English and they were very interested and curious.

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& # 39; They were very happy that I came to visit just to see and learn about their country. Usually the Westerners they encounter are the army or diplomats who come to their country for political reasons.

& # 39; I really enjoyed visiting the mosques such as the Blue Mosque in Mazar-e-Sharif and the bazaars such as the bird market of Kabul. They seemed to be places that were removed from all the turmoil of war. I felt here that I could observe how normal life without war would be. & # 39;

One of his favorite photos is that of a mother carrying her child at the Blue Mosque.

Thijs said: & # 39; My idea for this project was to improve the image we have of Afghanistan as a country of war-wanted cavemen who are all terrorists. & # 39; Depicted is an image that he has captured in the bird market of Kabul

Thijs said: & # 39; My idea for this project was to improve the image we have of Afghanistan as a country of war-wanted cavemen who are all terrorists. & # 39; Depicted is an image that he has captured in the bird market of Kabul

Thijs said: & # 39; My idea for this project was to improve the image we have of Afghanistan as a country of war-wanted cavemen who are all terrorists. & # 39; Depicted is an image that he has captured in the bird market of Kabul

In Herat, Thijs visited a traditional factory that makes tiles for mosques. The images that Thijs captured in Afghanistan are now being exhibited at an exhibition in Paris
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In Herat, Thijs visited a traditional factory that makes tiles for mosques. The images that Thijs captured in Afghanistan are now being exhibited at an exhibition in Paris

In Herat, Thijs visited a traditional factory that makes tiles for mosques. The images that Thijs captured in Afghanistan are now being exhibited at an exhibition in Paris

A worker pause in the traditional tile factory in Herat. The demand for tiles from the factory is decreasing due to competition from China

A worker pause in the traditional tile factory in Herat. The demand for tiles from the factory is decreasing due to competition from China

A worker pause in the traditional tile factory in Herat. The demand for tiles from the factory is decreasing due to competition from China

Thijs said: & # 39; It is easy to immediately point out everything that is wrong in the country, especially if you compare it to the western countries in which we live. This is not the point of my project and it does not help either. & # 39; Depicted are young people enjoying tea in Herat

Thijs said: & # 39; It is easy to immediately point out everything that is wrong in the country, especially if you compare it to the western countries in which we live. This is not the point of my project and it does not help either. & # 39; Depicted are young people enjoying tea in Herat

Thijs said: & # 39; It is easy to immediately point out everything that is wrong in the country, especially if you compare it to the western countries in which we live. This is not the point of my project and it does not help either. & # 39; Depicted are young people enjoying tea in Herat

Thijs has captured this fascinating image at a bazaar in Herat. The city is the third largest in Afghanistan after Kabul and Kandahar

Thijs has captured this fascinating image at a bazaar in Herat. The city is the third largest in Afghanistan after Kabul and Kandahar

Thijs has captured this fascinating image at a bazaar in Herat. The city is the third largest in Afghanistan after Kabul and Kandahar

He said: & # 39; It is an innocent and peaceful image, enhanced by the light colors and vivid colors. There is no war here. The child is sleeping, seemingly carefree.

& # 39; There is the incredible architecture of the mosque and a woman who runs without burqa. She walks into the light, into the sun, hopefully a metaphor for better times ahead. & # 39;

But although this is his favorite image, Thijs admits that very few of his images are about women.

He explained: & # 39; You will see that there are almost no women in the photos. It is not that they are not there, but they generally do not want to be photographed, especially not by men.

& # 39; I know female photographers who took great pictures of Afghan women after having invested a lot of time getting close to them.

& # 39; My idea for this project was to improve the image we have of Afghanistan as a country of war-wanted cavemen who are all terrorists. This is just a start, just something to start with to improve that image.

& # 39; It is easy to immediately point out everything that is wrong in the country, especially if you compare it to the western countries in which we live. This is not the point of my project and it does not help either.

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& # 39; It is also unfair to compare them with ours and you must respect that they are completely different cultures, where all progress has stopped and many steps have been reversed since the invasions and wars from 1979 to today.

A man smokes hashish in the province of Balkh, on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. Thijs noticed that the practice was very common when he traveled through the country

A man smokes hashish in the province of Balkh, on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. Thijs noticed that the practice was very common when he traveled through the country

A man smokes hashish in the province of Balkh, on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. Thijs noticed that the practice was very common when he traveled through the country

A trader proudly poses next to his goods in the bazaar in Herat. Thijs says the man showed him around his store, where he sells handicrafts and second-hand jewelry. At the back of the store, the photographer says that he saw two men who made jewelry from precious stones and minerals, which can be found in abundance in Afghanistan

A trader proudly poses next to his goods in the bazaar in Herat. Thijs says the man showed him around his store, where he sells handicrafts and second-hand jewelry. At the back of the store, the photographer says that he saw two men who made jewelry from precious stones and minerals, which can be found in abundance in Afghanistan

A trader proudly poses next to his goods in the bazaar in Herat. Thijs says the man showed him around his store, where he sells handicrafts and second-hand jewelry. At the back of the store, the photographer says that he saw two men who made jewelry from precious stones and minerals, which can be found in abundance in Afghanistan

A man looks down at one of the incredibly busy and chaotic alleys in the bird market of Kabul. Thijs said: & The chaos of the small and busy alleys with many eyes looking at you was a bit overwhelming. I looked up and saw this man, who apparently couldn't be bothered by the crowds on the street and thought it was a fun scene & # 39;

A man looks down at one of the incredibly busy and chaotic alleys in the bird market of Kabul. Thijs said: & The chaos of the small and busy alleys with many eyes looking at you was a bit overwhelming. I looked up and saw this man, who apparently couldn't be bothered by the crowds on the street and thought it was a fun scene & # 39;

A man looks down at one of the incredibly busy and chaotic alleys in the bird market of Kabul. Thijs said: & The chaos of the small and busy alleys with many eyes looking at you was a bit overwhelming. I looked up and saw this man, who apparently couldn't be bothered by the crowds on the street and thought it was a fun scene & # 39;

A young man in one of the many stores in the Herat bazaar. Thijs said: & # 39; He asked me to take a picture of him like many men did there. Many Afghans have a telephone or a smartphone and you mainly see the snarling selfies of the young generation. Yet many of them asked me to take their photo and then we looked together on the screen through the photos I took of them & # 39;

A young man in one of the many stores in the Herat bazaar. Thijs said: & # 39; He asked me to take a picture of him like many men did there. Many Afghans have a telephone or a smartphone and you mainly see the snarling selfies of the young generation. Yet many of them asked me to take their photo and then we looked together on the screen through the photos I took of them & # 39;

A young man in one of the many stores in the Herat bazaar. Thijs said: & # 39; He asked me to take a picture of him like many men did there. Many Afghans have a telephone or a smartphone and you mainly see the snarling selfies of the young generation. Yet many of them asked me to take their photo and then we looked together on the screen through the photos I took of them & # 39;

Thijs said: & # 39; The Afghans are a proud and strong people who have suffered enormously as a plaything between religious extremism and foreign forces operating in their country. They also deserve a chance for peace and to reconnect with the world & # 39;

Thijs said: & # 39; The Afghans are a proud and strong people who have suffered enormously as a plaything between religious extremism and foreign forces operating in their country. They also deserve a chance for peace and to reconnect with the world & # 39;

Thijs said: & # 39; The Afghans are a proud and strong people who have suffered enormously as a plaything between religious extremism and foreign forces operating in their country. They also deserve a chance for peace and to reconnect with the world & # 39;

& # 39; I find it a bit disrespectful to immediately jump to conclusions and label those companies backwards. Some people in the West quickly regard our own values ​​as the best and judge any society that does not live by those values.

& # 39; You may not agree with everything in their culture. Let's start by recognizing and recognizing beautiful things that can be found in this country. That a smile can be found. And work from there. & # 39;

The images that Thijs captured in Afghanistan are now being exhibited at an exhibition in Paris.

He is also working on setting up a Dutch foundation to support the Afghan Mobile Mini Circus, which helps Afghan children cope with the trauma of war through the arts. The photographer hopes that he will soon travel back to Afghanistan.

He explained: & # 39; Afghans are a proud and strong people who have suffered enormously as a plaything between religious extremism and foreign forces operating in their country. They also deserve a chance for peace and to reconnect with the world. & # 39;

  • Thijs is currently posting photos & # 39; s of his tour through Asia on his Instagram account, The Stans project and on his Facebook page.

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