A self-taught photographer based in Tehran, Newsha Tavakolian began working professionally at the age of sixteen. She was among the youngest photographers to cover major political events in Iran and the war in Iraq. After the 2009 presidential election in Iran, Tavakolian turned to more personal projects. She began creating extended studies of Iran’s younger generation and women in the Islamic world. Throughout her photographic practice, she seeks to give a more visible presence to her peers and the complexities of their everyday lives.
In Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album, published in 2015, Tavakolian tells the stories of nine individuals through short sequences of photographs arranged as chapters. Each chapter is composed of portraits of the individual and images of places and events related to his or her life. The last chapter, “Sami,” is about a man whose wife has left to pursue better professional opportunities abroad. Staying in Tehran, Sami expresses a conflicted sense of missing his wife yet being rooted in his homeland. Observing people at home in Tehran or finding solace by the sea, Tavakolian attempts to “fill in” the pages of an imagined photo album by offering glimpses of her own world.