The night before my trip, I was briefed by a Kabul security contractor who provided me with invaluable advice. He had me so scared, nervous and aware that I contemplated canceling the trip. But, I decided I could do make the trip and return safely.
One of the things he told me was that any Afghani can be "bought" and that he carried $1,000 in singles with him - in case of an emergency. I quickly learned that I didn't need cash but a camera.
Practically everyone we met wanted their picture taken, from small children to police and military personnel. It didn't matter that they didn't get to keep a copy of the image. They were delighted enough to see their image in the digital camera. Perhaps they are waiting to be the next dramatic National Geographic cover (note: that 1985 image is throughout Kabul - on postcards, posters, even the 2006 calendar).
I brought a Polaroid, not realizing how expensive the film is. But, to see the expressions on people's faces when I used it then gave them the photo was priceless. Cameras seemed to soften people's attitudes and seemed to bridge some gaps.