Bio

At work, in Kurdistan, Iraq. Photo: Benjamin Hiller

At work in Kurdistan, Iraq. Photo: Benjamin Hiller

As a student of Islamic science and history, I quickly found a second home in the Middle East, in both Arabic and Islamic countries. Over the years I have vastly extended my knowledge, experience, my language and photography skills in the region.

Despite a fast-pacing world where freelance journalism doesn’t offer the budget for extensive research anymore, I try to spend as much time with my subjects as possible, an effort that most journalists do not make. My work is aiming to tell people’s stories and promoting understanding of foreign societies and cultures to my audience.

My language skills and my education in Islamic science is helping me to earn people’s trust and therefore enables me to tell a better and deeper story than journalists without these skills. I usually produce stories that are connected to conflict or social issues, and how conflict is affecting people and their culture. A lot of my work also revolves around religious topics, and one of my long-term projects deals with Shia Islam in a range of countries.

I’m a self-taught photographer and journalist and my understanding of photo-journalism roots in the understanding of not altering reality. This means that I never orchestrate reality to get a better picture, for example.
Countries I’ve worked in include Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Mali. I speak German and English fluently, and I’m improving my Arabic.

I studied Islamic science and history at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. I’m an early member of the Frontline Freelance Register.

Working in Mali, 2014. Photo: Sebastian Weis

Working in Mali, 2014. Photo: Sebastian Weis

  • 2010: Internship at “The Daily Star” in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • 2011: Beginning of freelancing as a photojournalist during the Arab Spring.
  • 2012: Internship as press photographer for the German news-agency dapd in Berlin, Germany.
  • 2013: Participant of RISC training (Reporters instructed in saving colleagues).
    UN-organised one week training course for journalists working in dangerous areas, realised by the Bundeswehr (German Army).
  • 2014: Work trips to India, Afghanistan, Mali, Iran and Turkey.
  • 2015/2016: Four months in Lebanon to study Arabic, freelance work for Transterra Media.
  • 2016: Work trips to Iraq, Egypt, Sudan & Lebanon
  • 2017: Reporting from the front lines in Iraq

Recognition & Awards

Exhibitions

  • 05/2016
    group exhibition of the project everydayiran at Silk Road Gallery in Tehran, Iran
  • 2017
    group exhibition of the Rückblende Awards for political photography in Berlin, Trier, Koblenz, Bonn, Mainz, Leipzig, Neustadt a.d. Weinstraße and Brussels

Talks & lectures

  • lecture for television on “Alex Berlin” about my experience and my work in 2015
  • expert on Egyptian parliamentary elections 2013 for television on “Shabab talk” at Deutsche Welle
  • keynote and panel discussion at the Medienforum Mittweida in 2016
  • lecture about the Islamic State in Iraq & Syria for the Hans Boeckler foundation in Berlin, Germany, in 2017