An Iranian photojournalist and photographer, Abbas was born in 1944. He has dedicated his photographic skills to the social and political coverage of developing nations of the south. From 1970 onwards, major sections of his work have been featured in magazines around the world that include revolutions and wars in Ulster, Bangladesh, Chile, South Africa, Biafra, Cuba, Middle East, and Vietnam.
Between 1978 and 1980, Abbas took pictures of Iranian revolution and returned in intentional exile after seventeen years. He collected Iran’s photos and history in a book called Iran Diary, with writing in a diary format.
From 1983 for three years, Abbas went on a journey to Mexico to photograph the country. Return to Mexico, journey beyond the mask was an exposition and book including travel notes and images.
Moving on, around 1987 until 1994, he took photographs of the Islamic resurgence to Morocco from Xinjiang. Abbas, through his exhibition and book Allah O Akbar, a journey through militant Islam, aimed to expose the Muslim societies’ internal tensions frayed between a legendary history and a desire to be democratic and modern. After the 11 September attacks on the twin towers in New York, this book received exceptional attention.
In 2000, Abbas published a book and traveling exhibition, Faces of Christianity, a photographic journey. The photographer explored this particular religion as a spiritual, ritual and political phenomenon.
From the year 2001, Abbas spent his time working on Animism – the proposition that holds that an immaterial energy animates the entire universe. He was aiming to figure out that how do irrational rituals over power technology and science that define the world these days. However, he left this assignment on September 11 attacks’ first commemoration.
Abbas spent seven years documenting sixteen countries that included Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Thailand, Zanzibar, Kenya, Turkey, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and others. Pictures and studies from these places were collected into a book titled In Whose Name? The Islamic World after 9/11. Abbas is defined among the most extraordinary photographers of the contemporary world. This book is an example of one of his most compelling and memorable works.
Later from 2008 to 2010, Abbas refocused his attention to religion but this time he explored Buddhism. He photographed the religion with an incredulous eye to create Les Enfants du lotus, voyage chez les Bouddhistes. In 2011, he started working on a similar venture on Hinduism.
He has extensively worked on religions, defining their boundaries and how they were affected after 9/11 or what’s their essence in this scientific world. Abbas Abbas went and visited Iran several times even after shifting to Paris, in order to photographically record the impact the west made to the country and its society.
His pictures have been distributed all over the world with internet being the main source from where people learn about him and his work. His photographs have appeared in well-known magazines, such as Time. From 1971 to 1973, he was the member of Sipa, which is a French photo agency. He has also been associated with Gamma photo agency between 1974 and 1980. In addition, in 1981 he joined Magnum Photos.
His photos are heart wrenching and inspiring – they make one think and compare the different aspects of life – sadness and despair; hardships; conflict and insurgency; the sides of religion; and many more themes are reflected in his work.