Newsha Tavakolian

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Newsha Tavakolian (born 1981 in Tehran) is an Iranian photojournalist and documentary photographer. She has worked for Time Magazine, The New York Times, Le Figaro, and National Geographic. She is particularly known for focusing on women's issues in her work, and has been a member of the Rawiya women's photography collective, she co-established in 2011.[1][2]


Born and brought up in Tehran, at age 16, Tavakolian did a 6-month photography course,[3] thereafter she began working as professional photographer in Iranian press. She started at the women's daily newspaper Zan, and later worked for other nine reformist dailies, all since banned.[4] When she covered the July 1999 student uprising, using her Minolta with 50mm lens, her photographs were published in several publications.[3]

She got her international break in 2001 at age 21, when she met J.P. Pappis, founder Polaris Images, New York at a photography festival in Perpignan, France. Thereafter, she began covering Iran for Polaris Images, in the same year, and started working as a freelancer for The Times in 2004.[3] Over the years, she has been working internationally, covering wars, natural disasters and social documentary stories in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen.[4] Her work has been published by international magazines and newspapers such as in Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, New York Times Magazine, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad and National Geographic.[5]

A common theme in her work is photo stories of women, friends and neighbours in Iran, evolving role of women in overcoming gender-based restrictions, and contrasts the stereotypes in western media.[6][7] Her photo projects include Mother of Martyrs (2006), Women in the Axis of Evil (2006), The Day I Became a Woman (2010) and Look (2013), which opened at Thomas Erben Gallery, New York City.[8][9]

She was part of the 2006 Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo.[10] In 2007 she was a finalist for the Inge Morath Award.[11] Her work has been exhibited and collected at institutions such as the British Museum,[12] the Victoria and Albert Museum,[13] Los Angeles County Museum of Art,[7] the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston [14] and Somerset House, London. (April 2014), where she was one of eight Iranian photographers featured in the critically acclaimed "Burnt Generation" exhibition .[6][15]

She lives and works in Tehran[8] and is married to the Dutch journalist Thomas Erdbrink.


  1. ^ Megan Gibson, "Rawiya: Photography Collective Finds Strength in Numbers", Time, November 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Alyssa Coppleman, "Photos of Women Who Could Go to Prison for Singing for Men", Slate, October 3, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c David W. Dunlap (June 17, 2009). "On Assignment: Covering Tehran". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  4. ^ a b Biography and introduction of Tavakolian in Persian
  5. ^ BBC reports "8 o'clock" gallery in Persian
  6. ^ a b Leah Harper (6 April 2014). "Newsha Tavakolian's portraits of Iran's middle-class youth – in pictures". The Observer. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  7. ^ a b Newsha Tavakolian, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (accessed 2013-11-16).
  8. ^ a b Nima Shirazi (April 12, 2013). "The Lonely "Look" of Iranian Photographer Newsha Tavakolian". Muftah magazine. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  9. ^ "Newsha Tavakolian's photo exhibition "Look" opens at Thomas Erben Gallery – New York". Vimeo. 2013. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  10. ^ "Newsha Tavakolian: photographer and artist, Iran". World Press Photo. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 
  11. ^ "Newsha Tavakolian (Iran): Iran, Girl Power! Inge Morath Award Finalist, 2007." Inge Morath Foundation (accessed 2013-11-16).
  12. ^ "British Museum exhibits photos by Iran’s Tavakolian", Press TV, February 8, 2012.
  13. ^ "Newsha Tavakolian, from the series 'Mothers of Martyrs'", Victoria and Albert Museum (accessed 2013-11-16).
  14. ^ Kerri McDonald, "A Show of Strength by Middle Eastern Women Photographers", The New York Times, August 26, 2013.
  15. ^ "Prix Pictet Conversations on Photography - Newsha Tavakolian". World Photography Organisation. 16 Jul 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-15. 

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