Tasneem Sultan: Photographer Who Rejects Stereotypes

Mar 10, 2019

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Tasneem Alsultan is a Saudi-American photographer based in Saudi Arabia. She is known for her work on gender and social issues in Saudi Arabia.

Born in the United States, Tasneem moved to Saudi Arabia when she was 16 and went to university at the same time she started her family.

Married at the age of 17 and becoming a mother at 21, Tasneem found herself living as a single parent for the last six years of an unhappy ten-year marriage. Soon she began interviewing and photographing other women who shared similar experiences.

After finishing her Master degree in social linguistics and anthropology in her late 20’s, she moved back to Saudi Arabia. Her college thesis was focused on Saudi women studying abroad and specifically their issues of identity. Photography became a hobby since that time. 

Tasneem’s photos document women’s identity issues. She began by changing the game of wedding photography in a traditional and reserved society, contrasted with the stories of women who reject expected stereotypes and managed to find creative ways of overcoming the multiple hurdles set in front of them by society, and sometimes the state.

Focusing on love and marriage, how women find meaning in their lives – their stories include choices that involve marriage, divorce, and other difficult personal experiences. She portraits these unique women in a direct and honest fashion.

What began as a part-time hobby grew into a full-time profession. She gave up her teaching position at the university to become a commercial photographer. Since then, she has captured more than 120 weddings all over the world.

Now, Tasneem works as a freelance investigative photographer for multiple international media sources in the Middle East. Many of her narratives focus on women living in Saudi Arabia documenting important events, such as the first election where women were allowed to vote. She portrays fierce women who challenge stereotypes, exploring non-traditional paths to fulfill their dreams and desires.

Tasneem is a member of Rawiya, the first all-female photographic collective in the Middle East and her work is published in international journals including, National Geographic, The New York Times, Amnesty International, Spiegel, the Washington Post, and others.

Read more: www.arabnews.com/node/1398701/saudi-arabia

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