The Fort of Bala Hissar, Kabul

c. 19th century

John Burke was an Irish photographer who took some of the earliest photos ever of Afghanistan. Employed as a tradesman in his homeland, he applied to the British Army to work as an official photographer; he’s best known for his work during the second Anglo-Afghan war. Later, he travelled to Afghanistan at his own expense, toiling hard through the mountainous regions with a wooden field camera and a long trail of servants, who toiled even harder carrying his photo-production equipment. The method that Burke used to develop his photographs was called the wet-collodion process, and it was a highly laborious and expensive ordeal involving glass-negatives. Using such implements, he shot landscapes, battlefields, archaeological sites, street scenes and portraits of British officers.

The Fort of Bala Hissar, Kabul
c. 19th century
John Burke
Albumen print
17 cm x 63 cm
Accession No.