"œMister, take my picture!": Photographs by Stephen Dupont

An award-winning photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, Stephen Dupont is known for his work in some of the world's most dangerous areas, including Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Iraq, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Somalia, and Zaire. A native of Australia, Dupont has been working in Afghanistan since 1993, covering everything from civil war and the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s to the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom and the ongoing war on terrorism. The Library has recently acquired two of his portfolios: Afghanistan, 1993-2008 and Axe Me Biggie, whose title is a phonetic rendering of the Dari for "Mister, take my picture!" That's exactly what people asked, clamoring for a seat in front of Dupont's seemingly miraculous Polaroid camera, which produced a likeness on the spot for the sitters to take away. The calmness of the portraits belies the chaos that preceded them, inducing the local police to maintain order around the makeshift studio. Then, in a flash, all energy was directed at the camera. Ultimately, these portraits tell a story about poverty, warfare, and broken promises, but also of perseverance and hope. Dupont distills meaning into formally beautiful images that resonate both historically and emotionally. These are truly photographs that have something to say.


Stephen Dupont. Axe Me Biggie. Selections from a portfolio of 20 gelatin silver prints from Polaroid negatives. Kabul, Afghanistan, March 13, 2006.
The New York Public Library, The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection.


Treasures Video: Watch a Short Film on the Photography Collection, focusing on the History of Documentary Photography

Related Publication: Afghanistan, or The Perils of Freedom: Photographs by Stephen Dupont

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