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.
Tavakolian is a nominee member of Magnum Photos.
Born and brought up in Tehran, at age 16, Tavakolian did a 6-month
photography course, 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
When she covered the July 1999 student uprising, using her Minolta with
50mm lens, her photographs were published in several publications.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
She was part of the 2006 Joop Swart Masterclass organized by World Press Photo.
In 2007 she was a finalist for the Inge Morath Award. Her work has been
exhibited and collected at institutions such as the British Museum, the
Victoria and Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum
of Fine Arts, Boston and Somerset House, London. (April 2014), where
she was one of eight Iranian photographers featured in the critically
acclaimed "Burnt Generation" exhibition.
In June 2015 Tavakolian became a nominee member of Magnum Photos.
She lives and works in Tehran and is married to the Dutch journalist Thomas Erdbrink.