Iranian photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian

Iranian photojournalist Newsha TavakolianThis morning while getting dressed for work, I listed to NPR’s interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Towards the end Ahmadinejad fervently stated, “There’s at least 100 times more freedom in Iran than there is in the United States.”

Whether you agree with his statement or not, Iranian photojournalist Newsha Tavakolian, has been able to freely document everyday life in Iran.

Represented by the U.S. photo agency, Polaris Images, Tavakolian has covered the Middle East for major magazines and newspapers like Newsweek and The New York Times.

Given its Western view as a women-oppressed country, it seems odd that a female photographer would be allowed access to photograph life and political events in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Perhaps Tavakolian’s economic status affords her a certain kind of freedom? I wonder, does she have to cover herself when she shoots?

In this personal account of her coverage of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, it’s interesting to note that Tavakolian’s role as photographer on the scene is weighing heavily on her conscience. She even asks, “Will these pictures really help these people or will they only help my portfolio?”

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