Portrait of Sam Faulkner

Sam Faulkner - Brighton Photo Biennial 2014

The day after my last exam, I threw a battered old Canon and a few rolls of Tri-X into a backpack and took a long route to Afghanistan. It was 1994. I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going. I hadn’t worked out how I was going to get into the country, let alone how I was going to get out. I wanted an adventure and to have a go at becoming a photographer. I slept under the stars, next to teenage killers who’d never met a foreigner before. At night we shared greasy mutton soup as we watched tracer rounds and rockets silently rain on distant Kabul. By day we toured the front lines south of the capital, crouched behind low mud walls as bullets whistled overhead. At times I wondered whether I really was just a guest. My hosts, a band of mujihadeen, linked to the murderous warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, seemed in no hurry to see me go and whenever we moved we went in convoy, billowing clouds of dust. I was utterly dependent upon them in a hostile, alien country. After about 2 weeks they drove me back to the Pakistan border. I had shot 6 rolls of film. But it was the start. Today, I still get the same buzz arriving on assignment in a new country. My kit may be a bit fancier, the brief a bit tighter and the budget (hopefully) a bit more generous, but it is always a thrill to do this job. I live in London with my wife and our two young children.


“I have been fortunate to be able to work in many different areas of image making, both in stills and film, across fashion, art and portraiture but it is reportage photography that has always been my passion and motivation for picking up a camera.”