Instagram Take-Over #9: Jalal Shams Azaran, the 2012 Earthquake in Northwestern Iran

August 2, 2016

Varzaqan County, Iran. 2012 –This little girl lost her mother in the earthquake. While other women try to comfort her, she wears a mask to protect herself from the dust and stench.

For its ninth Instagram take-over by photographers from around the world, Carnegie Council presents Jalal Shams Azaran, a documentary photographer based in Tabriz, Iran. Photographing since 1995, Shams Azaran uses as his raw materials the community, the people, as well as the objects he finds in each society he visits. Shams Azaran believes that there exists a complex, metaphorical relationship between all elements in society, and that a good photo must display this relationship, giving it a poetic and conceptual character. For Shams Azaran, his black-and-white photographs remain the best and most intimate way for him to relate to the people and world around him.

Shams Azaran's photo series featured this week was taken after the catastrophic earthquake that struck Northwest Iran in 2012. The earthquake affected more than 400 villages and left more than 60 villages destroyed. Despite assistance provided by the government, the survivors continue to live in extreme hardship. Given that the area has suffered over 3,000 aftershocks, a lack of confidence and unrest prevails. While some are forced to sell property at a low cost to rebuild homes and move to urban areas, others continue to await help. The aim of these photographs is to showcase both the survivors' hardship as well as their resilience, in coping with what might be intolerable to many.

For more about Jalal Shams Azaran and to see more of his photos, go to his website:

Carnegie Council hosts a new Instagram take-over every month. Check out the previous photographers and look for the next one in early August: