Growing up in Afghanistan, photographer Azim H’s parents would tell him tales of heroic travellers who would ride across the mountains on horses. Now, as a photographer, his passion is to bring the mysteries and myths of his roots to life through photography. In his project Edris, he’s recreated those beautiful, magical creatures he used to imagine as a kid. No CGI needed; just a horse, a rider and a car full of tinsel.
“The project is inspired by tales from my childhood in Afghanistan. The horse is an important figure in myths discussed by travelers there. My family would pass fairytales down from generation to generation, and my dreams are imbued with mental images of the stories narrated by my parents. As a little boy, I used to love the one about my uncle, a real adventurer who would ride his horse through the mountains from Iran to Afghanistan. These stories drive and nourish my creativity, and Edris is the incarnation of old, sleepy dreams.
I’ve always been interested in creating a visual link between reality and my inner world... I love giving my images this extraordinary dimension, while still anchoring them in reality.
I met this fantastic horse rider, Edris, completely by chance in a very small village near Marrakech. When we met, I explained my idea to shoot him and his horse and we agreed on a date one week later. He still trusted me even when I turned up with a car full of tinsel, which he and his son used to decorate his horse. From there, everything happened very naturally, which was quite amazing considering the surreal nature of the project!
We wandered into the village, using the buildings and alleys as natural frames as Edris and his horse posed as if they’d been choreographed to do so. After two hours, he raised his hands, telling me that was enough, and the sacred moment was over.
I’m hugely influenced by my time in Afghanistan, and by the tales I heard there. Life drove me to other parts of the world: Germany, France and the United States, which shaped me in their own way and changed my photographic style and the way I tell my stories. I love this project because it’s a perfect example of how the experiences of my home and those of the West, where I’ve lived for decades, melt within me and merge together in my work.”