Singapore-born and Hong Kong-based photojournalist Laurence Tan works as an assignment editor at Getty's images. His day job, however, doesn't seem to interfere with his personal projects and proof of this is his growing number of photo series.
For this article, let's look closely at Laurence' series titled Afghanistan Through A Tourist’s Lens.
Laurence recounts that curiosity started the series, "I was traveling along the Panj River in Tajikstan, a central Asian country bordering Afghanistan, when a patch of light struck my eye. As I looked up, a distant view of brick houses peering over the bordering mountains flooded my vision. I wondered what life was like on the other side. My curiosity grew over the next couple years as the captivating scene deepened its roots in my memory; I was determined to see Afghanistan for myself."
One of the first questions asked about Afganistan is if it is safe for tourists. Laurence' take on this is that "Afghanistan is not your typical holiday destination. As I was planning my trip, the war had stretched into its 16th year. The heightened threat of terrorism, risks of kidnapping, hostage taking and militant attacks led to increased travel advisories throughout most of the country. Despite the elevated threat however, I found that there were still stable locations that were relatively safe for travelers to visit, one of them being the Bamiyan Valley... Bamiyan remains a unique travel destination for its historic UNESCO sites, including the ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola and Shahr-e Zuhak, as well as the caves that were occupied by some 5,000 monks during the town’s heyday over 10 centuries ago."
For his final photo (shown above), Laurence recounts that "as I stood on the edge of that cliff with a new scene unfolding before me, I wondered how Bamiyan would look like if there were more international visitors, and if the scenic region is ready for mass tourism in the midst of a war."