A self-taught photographer based in Tehran, Newsha Tavakolian began working professionally in the Iranian press at age of 16. In 2002 she decided to work internationally, covering the war in Iraq. She has since covered regional conflicts, natural disasters and created social documentary projects. Her work ranges from bold reportage of political events to sensitive portraits and evocative series on socially-engaged topics including issues of middle-class youth, female Kurdish fighters or the impact of sanctions on individual lives.

Her work has been published in international magazines and newspapers and widely exhibited at international institutions, including Victoria & Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), British Museum and Boston Museum of Fine Art.

In 2014 Tavakolian was the fifth laureate of the Carmignac Gestion Photojournalism Award. In 2015 she was the principle laureate of the Prince Claus Award.

Tavakolian became a Magnum Associate in 2017.