Ms Newsha Tavakolian

Position: Photographer
Country: Iran
Newsha Tavakolian (b. 1981, Tehran, Iran) began working as a professional in the Iranian press at the age of 16. She fought hard to work as a photographer full-time at the women’s daily newspaper Zan, which at that time was almost impossible as there were only five professional women photojournalists. At the age of 18, she was the youngest photographer amongst a group of mainly male photographers to cover the 1999 student riots which were the most intense riots since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. For one week her images were front-page news in the most important reformist newspaper of that time, Neshat.

At the age of 21 she began working internationally, covering wars, natural disasters and social documentary stories in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen. These stories were published by international magazines and newspapers such as Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, Colors, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad and New York Times Magazine. At the age of 26, she was hired to work for National Geographic magazine and one of her photographs made the August 2008 European covers. Around the same time she also created the group RAWIYAH.

In 2009, she was hired by The New York Times to cover the general election which caused many riots and unrest within the country and thus made it more difficult for photographers to work in Iran. She then had to change the way she worked from photojournalism to mainly documentary and art photography with a particular interest in women’s issues. 

In 2012, her first book, The Fifth Pillar, was published by Gilgamesh. It consisted of her Hajj journey. For the past few years her work has been exhibited in museums such as The British Museum and The Victoria & Albert Museum, which have also purchased her work, and the Chelsea Art Museum. In the immediate future her work will be shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which owns several of her works, and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where her work is on loan.