With numerous works featured in Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Der Spiegel, and many other renowned international publications, it may come as a surprise to learn that Iman Al-Dabbagh never formally studied photography.
This self-taught Saudi Arabian female photographer was born and raised in Jeddah to Palestinian-Armenian parents and lived in Saudi Arabia until she was 18, when she moved to Los Angeles, USA, to study art with an emphasis in graphic design. While there, she worked in print production and the design field, and several years later decided to take up photography.
According to Arab News, a friend of her mother was the first person to encourage her to try photography, back in 2006, a year after graduating. That same year, Al-Dabbagh met the late French photographer Alexandra Boulat, who also encouraged her to pursue photography, and to do so in Saudi Arabia as she had access to a world that was closed to many.
A decade after living and working in the US, Al-Dabbagh finally moved back to Saudi Arabia following the advice of her mother’s friend and Boulat, where she now works on assignments for international publications.
Her works have been described as raw and diverse, perhaps a reflection of her background and a life lived in different countries and many communities. According to her website, she “works on self-assigned, long-term visual narratives addressing social and human issues, love and social taboos in conservative societies, identity, self image, and the little stories in-between. Iman’s interest lies in the small, unnoticed stories.
The stories she makes are narrated by her own life events and experiences; they are self-portraits, in a way. Her photographs are known for being intimate and natural, and they’ve been described as magical.”
Check out her work here.