Hall of Fame
Documentary 9th February, 2017

“The world is my field of vision. From war to peace, from the unspeakable to the moments of poetry, my images are testimonies of humankind.” – Reza

Photography is not just pursuing a form of art. It’s not just chasing a passion. It’s an armament that can bring about a change. It’s a language that speaks for all and is understood and spoken beyond borders. Photographers do not just capture moments that are beautiful. They understand their responsibility and deliver.

Reza is one such stalwart who captures the sufferings of mankind that are beyond imagination. He captures truth that can shake us from the roots. But he captures them with a ray of sunshine. He brings it to us wrapped in sensitivity. His optimist eyes find joy running hand in hand with despair and harmony with conflict. Reza believes in the victory of life above all things. Thus, in the deadly debacles, he finds humanity hitting the winning stroke. His photographs bear the essence of life. In the midst of helplessness and dismay of humankind, he sees culture, tradition and history bringing back hope that nurture the new. Through his frames and his works Reza talks about hope for a better world.

A philanthropist, an idealist and a humanist Reza studied architecture. But his passion drove him to take up the camera. Eventually he went on to become a renowned photojournalist, who for the last three decades, have been working all over the world.

His prime engagement has been with National Geographic. Travelling over a hundred countries, he has witnessed humanity’s conflict and catastrophe. Other than series, books and documentaries for National Geographic, his works have been featured in Time Magazine, Stern, Newsweek, El Pai`s, Paris Match, etc.

Since 1983, Reza has been committed to volunteer for training of youths and women from the conflict dominated areas, the language of images. Here he made a mark different from that of the others. He delivers his responsibility of being a human by putting his skill into use for the benefit of others.

In 2001 he founded Ainaworld in Afghanistan. Ainaworld is a new generation NGO which trains in information and communications through development of educational tools and adapted media.

He believes in spreading the power of photography and thus continued to conduct workshops on the language of images, both on site and on line through his association Reza Visual Academy. His area of focus includes refugees, urban youths in Europe and others from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Reza’s monumental works have been appreciated and acclaimed across the globe. Here is an account of his works and their exhibition:

M`emoires d’Exile (Memories of Exile) shown at the Louvre Carrousel in 1998.

Crossing Destinies shown on the grills of Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.

One World, One Tribe in Washington DC and in Parc de la Villette in Paris.

War + Peace at the Caen Memorial and on the banks of the Garonne in Toulouse.

Hope in Doha (Qatar).

Windows of the Soul in Corsica.

Soul of Coffee has been shown in 250 photographic exhibitions throughout the world including major installations on the banks of the Seine, Kew Gardens in London.

Land of Tolerance at the UN Headquarters in New York, the European Parliament in Brussels, UNESCO in Paris.

Azerbaijan: the Elegance of Fire presented at the Petit Palais In 2014, revealed less known people with an ancestral culture turned towards modernity.

A Dream of Humanity, the giant panorama, was featured along the banks of the Seine during the summer of 2015, showing portraits of refugees around the world taken by Reza and photographs taken by refugee children in Iraqi Kurdestan who were trained as “camp reporters” at the workshops organized by Reza Visual Academy.

“I aim to recount, denounce, touch, witness and make laugh or cry, thanks to the universal language of photography.” – Reza


Reza is the author of twenty nine books, and is recipient of many awards:

Fellow (2006 – 2012) and Explorer of the National Geographic Society since 2013.

Senior Fellow of Ashoka Foundation.

World Press Photo recognized his works.

He received the Infinity Award from the International Centre of Photography.

The lucy Award, an Honorary Medal from the University of Missouri have been bestowed upon him

He received the honourary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa from the American University of Paris.

France has also appointed him a Chevalier of the National Order of Merit.

  • Afghanistan, Botkhak village, east of Kabul  Afghanistan was reeling from the invasion of the Russian army, but quietly, the resistance was organizing. I was sent on assignment for Time magazine and Sipa Press, and despite the determination of the Russians to stop any visual coverage of their brutal invasion, I followed a group of fifty-three mujahidin from « Mahaz e Meli » group, who, on May 14th 1983, launched an attack on Kabul. On the morning of the offensive, I took this photo. This masterful strike was like a shock wave which let the Russians know their days in Afghanistan were numbered.
  • The Wise Man Afghanistan  Refugees from the conflict with the Russians. This patriarch and his large family had been forced to leave behind their village and their past. Close to the border, he bade the caravan to stop and set up camp. They were still in danger but no one dared oppose him. There he presided, reading the Koran and poetry. Back then, my own exile was recent and I still remember what he said to me: “Your home, your country, your history are within you, if you let them enter. Wherever you are, they follow you.
  • The Children Photographers  Afghanistan  The Russian army invaded Afghanistan and I was in mission to find Massoud, the young commander of the Afghan resistance. I was determined to reach the Panjshir Valley and meet him. But after weeks of wandering in the mountains, with a lack of food and sleep (and the constant tension of a possible ambush), I was left completely exhausted. Then I arrived at a village and the children ran up and began to imitate me, playing at being photographers. Their kindness raised my spirit and relieved my steps.
  • On the Road to Exile. Afghanistan. The war against the Soviet invaders raged for four years. Towns and villages, plains and countryside were all the theater for the terrors of this unequal struggle. The Russian soldiers were gaining ground. Men, women and children who were fleeing the combat zones had to hurry along roads full of natural obstacles, such as the Konar River. People swarmed onto makeshift crafts and, in the scramble, some died, trampled or drowned. Others managed to grab hold of the barges. Sometimes, the Russian helicopters targeted these fleeing rafts, who were easy marks, trapped in the middle of the river. My only memory is one of chaos.  The road of the traveler is full of silent encounters, strangers face to face between two questionings, that of the inhabitant and that of the person passing through. A little further, sitting alongside a dirt road winding through the arid plain, I had a silent encounter with this grandfather and his granddaughter, proud and destitute, who observed me, the foreigner.
  • Memories of Exile  Afghanistan  The first step you take as an exile is to leave your country, often at the risk of your own life. After this difficult transition, one begins the subtler process of trying to rebuild. When an exile finds a refuge, their new country becomes a sanctuary where they feel physically safe and have more intellectual freedom, but then they have to deal with the emotional displacement of being a stranger. The memory of your lost country lives on inside you, but, beyond the joy of being free, there remains a sense of mourning for your native land. For an exile, the joys of the present are full of the memories of the past.
  • Afghanistan, Tora Bora village  I was in one of the most dangerous assignment for National Geographic magazine, ever. I have been few months in the mountains along the Pakistan border, roaming through villages on the front lines between the Taliban and US Special Forces. One day, after few hours of trekking in the mountains, I arrived in the village of Tora Bora. She was there, playing with the other children, and suddenly she turned to me. I had time for just a few frames. She was born and raised during the times of the heaviest bombardment ever in her land and the entire history of the Afghan war can be found in the depths of this innocent girl’s eyes.
  • France, Normandy, Etretat  Sahar Dehghan, a Franco-American actress of Iranian origin, performs a Sufi dance.  For years, I have been interested in the manifestations of trance in religious rites. I have a particular appreciation for the mystical Sufi dances. I always seek out the alchemy born of location, light and movement, the ‘decisive moment’ when you say, “That’s it!” On this day, I had spent a long time seeking out this flight to freedom, transcending past and future, East and West.