Philanthropist, idealist, humanist and extraordinary photographer, REZA has brought image after image of never-before-seen material to audiences around the world for the last 40 years.
For National Geographic and various other world publications, Reza has travelled to more than a hundred countries, photographing conflicts, revolutions, and both manmade and natural disasters. All the while, his photos capture the beauty of humanity that prevails despite its capacity for violence.
Throughout his career, Reza has volunteered his service—both with and without his camera—to those in need within damaged civil societies. He has worked closely with the International Red Cross, UNICEF and other UN agencies to reunite families after the Rwandan genocide, to document vaccination campaigns in the Sudan and to negotiate food supply routes in Afghanistan.
In 2001, Reza founded the NGO Ainaworld under which he consolidated his humanitarian projects in Afghanistan. Ainaworld trains Afghans, and in particular, women, in media and communication so that they can tell their own stories. The organization has been a catalyst for the expansion of Afghan media.
Above all, visual education has been Reza’s focus. He has initiated photographic-training programs from the Townships of apartheid South Africa to refugee camps in war-torn countries and communities of Europe’s disadvantaged youths.
With this experience, Reza continued and expanded its humanitarian actions with the creation of the association Reza Visual Academy / Les Ateliers Reza in 2013. He formally integrated his various missions in Mali, France or Iraqi Kurdistan. The association offers visual trainings for youths living in precarious societies around the world, such as refugee camps and suburbs of big cities. By learning the language of image, Reza encouraged them to express and share their own vision of life. He recently worked on two projects in Barrios of Buenos Aires in partnership with the French Institute of Argentina and in three cities of Turkey, under de aegis of Unicef Turkey. He has exhibited his students’ photos on the banks of the Seine, in Duhok University in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the French Embassy of Buenos Aires, in the United Nations Headquarters in New-York or in the Economic Social and Environmental Council in Paris.
Author of twenty-nine books, Reza is an Explorer of the National Geographic Society and an Ashoka Senior Fellow. He has had exhibitions in major cities across the globe. His life and works have been covered by several documentaries including documentaries produced by National Geographic – some of them award winning – Arte, Ushuaia TV. He has received the Infinity Award, the Lucy Award, recognition by World Press Photo, an honorary medal from the University of Missouri and the Doctor Honoris Causa from the American University of Paris. France has also appointed him a Chevalier of the National Order of Merit, one of the highest civilian orders.