If you run a google search on what are the top famous Photographs of all time, The Afghan Girl is sure to appear. She is truly a face from History and one that many across the globe have tried to capture within others time and time again. But what exactly has made this image and its photographer so captivating?
Eyes, they say, are the window to the soul. And capturing such a piercing and expressive look in a photograph is a highly sought after skill. The Afghan Girl exhibits suspense, suspicion and a sense of distrust at the person behind the lens, she gives off an air of maturity, a foreboding feeling - a vulnerability behind years of strength. That, is what makes her so captivating.
Sharbat Gula is her name, although few even know this rather important detail. She was photographed by journalist Steve McCurry whilst she was living as a refugee in Pakistan, during the time of the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan - her home town. Whilst it looks fairly modern in style, it was actually shot quite some years ago now and originally appeared on the cover of the 1985 issue of National Geographic Magazine - when Sharbat was just twelve years old.
The name Afghan Girl quickly became her identity for many years as it wasn't until 2002 that she was formally named and recognised as Sharbat Gula. The photograph itself, and the subject, is often referred to as 'The Afghan Mona Lisa' such is the emotion and captivating feel to the girls face.
Steve McCurry took the photo with a Nikon FM2 Camera and a Nikkor 105mm F2.5 Lens. His simplistic capture and careful retouching afterwards rendered a striking image that was soon to become a symbol of the 1980s Afghan Conflict and of the situation of refugees worldwide. As WDWParksGal pointed out, there are now two photos of The Afghan Girl - a stark contrast between the first and the more recent, but the eyes remain the same. Check it out here.