Photo: Whirling dervish

Photograph by Reza

Photo: Reza

Photograph by Mark Thiessen

World famous for his intrepid explorer's style of photographing the world's most exotic places, Reza (as he is known) has covered most of the globe for National Geographic magazine.

National Geographic Television has produced several films on Reza's work. One of them received an Emmy Award in 2002, and another production, which traced the history of his life, was nominated for the award as well. Reza was the creative director for National Geographic's most viewed documentary, Inside Mecca. In May 2008, National Geographic, as part of its Exceptional Journeys series, released a DVD that follows Reza’s extensive photographic career and travels, with special features highlighting his work as a humanitarian.

Reza’s award-winning images are iconic. But there's far more to the man than his camera. He is the founder of Aina (The Mirror), an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the education and empowerment of children and women through the use of media and communication. His aim is for them to develop skills that can contribute to the building of a free and open society by supporting sustainable development, promoting human rights, and strengthening national unity.

In 1991 Reza acted as a consultant to the United Nations in Afghanistan, helping to distribute food to populations in war-torn parts of the country. For his exemplary dedication to such humanitarian causes and because of his work with Aina in Afghanistan, National Geographic awarded him the title of National Geographic fellow in 2006.

Reza is deeply committed to the education of future generations. He spends much of his time as lecturer, trainer, and visiting professor, giving presentations and running workshops on global issues, his humanitarian work, and photojournalism, in international institutions and universities such as George Washington University, Stanford University, Beijing University, and the Sorbonne in Paris.

Reza's photographs have been displayed in major cities throughout the world. These include “War+Peace” (2009) at Caen Memorial (Peace Museum) in Normandy, an exhibition portraying 30 years of his photographic journey in search of human stories. “One World, One Tribe” (2006), was the first National Geographic Museum outdoor exhibition in Washington, D.C., and "Crossing Destinies" (2003), his landmark exhibition in Paris, drew a million visitors.

Over the last three decades, Reza’s photographs have graced many of National Geographic magazine’s most noted covers and have been published in major international publications. Reza is the author of 16 books, including War & Peace, the first book in the National Geographic Masters of Photography series. His latest book, Sindbad, is about the seven trips of Sindbad, the mystical character from One Thousand and One Nights. Another book is Childhood Promise, a story told by three people, Reza, Rachel, and their son Delazad, about a promise made by a father to his son in order to discover more about each other and themselves.

In 1996 Reza won the Hope Prize for his contribution to a joint project with UNICEF, “Lost Children Portrait” in Rwanda. He was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, France’s highest civilian honor, in November 2005, for his philanthropic work in children’s education and the empowerment of women in the media. In 2006, Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe presented him with the Prince of Asturias Humanitarian Medal. The same year, Reza also received the Honor Medal from the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Journalism “in recognition of his lifelong contributions, through brilliant photojournalism, to justice, and dignity for the world’s citizens” and “award of recognition on his humanitarian service to the global community and all citizens of the world” from Chicago University.

In 2008 Reza became the senior fellow of the Ashoka Foundation; in May 2009 he received an honorary degree from the American University of Paris for his achievements in the fields of journalism and humanitarian work; and he was awarded the Lucie Award from the Lucie Foundation in New York in October 2009. Reza is currently planning a new photography project with inhabitants of the Sicilian suburb of Librino.

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