An Afghan woman holds a baby during an election rally for Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on February 18, 2014.

The Afghan photographer who dedicated his life to documenting a country fraught with war

Updated 10:40 AM ET, Mon April 30, 2018

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The chief photographer for Agence France-Presse in Kabul, Shah Marai, was among at least ten journalists killed in a several attacks in Afghanistan on Monday.
Marai, an acclaimed photojournalist, spent more than 15 years documenting conflict in Afghanistan for AFP. He had written about the dangers of reporting in the Afghan capital in a 2016 essay, "When Hope is Gone."
With AFP's permission, CNN republishes that essay below, along with a selection of his work that spans his career.
Marai is survived by his two wives and six children, including a newborn daughter.

When hope is gone

The time after the American invasion was a time of great hope. The golden years. After the darkness of the Taliban rule, Afghanistan finally seemed to be on the road to a better life. But today, fifteen years later, that hope has vanished and life seems to be even harder than before.
I began working as a photographer for AFP under the Taliban, in 1998.
They hated journalists, so I was always very discreet -- I always made sure to put on the traditional shalwar kameez outfit when going outside and I took pictures with a small camera that I hid in a scarf wrapped around my hand. The Taliban restrictions made it extremely difficult to work -- they forbid the photographing of all living things, for example, be they men or animals.
Agence France-Presse's chief photographer in Kabul, Shah Marai, is pictured at the AFP bureau in Kabul in April 2012.
One day I was taking pictures of a line outside a bakery. Life at the time was hard, people were without work, prices were going through the roof. Some Taliban approached me.
"What are you doing?" they demanded.
    "Nothing," I answered. "I'm taking pictures of the bread!"
    Luckily this was in the age before digital cameras, so they couldn't check to make sure I was telling the truth.
    I rarely put my name on my photos at the time, I just signed them "stringer," so as not to draw unwanted attention to myself.
    An Afghan boy carries a sheep on his shoulders at a livestock market ahead of Eid al-Adha festival in Kabul on September 22, 2015.
    AFP didn't really have a bureau here back then, we had a house in the same neighborhood, Wazir Akbar Khan, that we do today. Special envoys would take turns coming here, and we would regularly go to the frontline on the Shomali Plain, where the Northern Alliance was holding out against the Taliban. Aside from the BBC, only the three agencies, -- AFP, AP and Reuters -- remained in the city. Then in 2000 all of the foreigne