Abbas Hajimohammadi: On Finding Good Stories in Small Subjects during his Human Rights Fellowship


2014 Human Rights Fellow Abbas Hajimohammadi

“Being in Magnum Foundation’s Photography & Human Rights program was a big success for me for many different reasons. As a self-taught photographer, I have been following my own instincts in photography. The fellowship proved to me that I’ve been on the right path and finally I could get the answers to my unanswered questions.

Starting a project in a short time teaches you how to work under pressure and really shapes you as a tough photographer. A big lesson for me was that sometimes a good story lies in a small subject. You don’t have to look at it very big and wide. Focusing on a smaller subject or simply one person can be key to sharing a big story.

The day I got to New York, I was really curious about knowing more about same sex marriage and the freedom to do this marriage here. A lot of people told me it can’t be a good story because same sex marriage is not a big deal in New York. But I told myself, "let me go and see it at least." I went to city hall and found a new thing - same sex couples who come to New York from other countries just to marry, since it is illegal to have a same sex marriage in their own country.

I now believe there is always a part of story that has not been covered.


One of the other good aspects of this fellowship was the diversity of fellows that I could share my culture and see my cultural differences with. I learned to see things internationally and my perspective shifted - I learned to do a project with an international view.

If you live in New York, some big things that are normal for you are very unique for me as an Middle Easterner. And some things that are happening in my country, like the everyday life of my people, are normal for me and very unique and eye catching for you. So as a photographer and photo journalist, I really believe you need to see other countries and train your eyes to see things globally.

I mean, as a photojournalist you must think that you are from nowhere. And work on stories that can be eye catching for the whole world and can be the problem of a lot of people, so people can find solutions. 

I’ve always had problems finding a subject. Now that I am back in Iran with a fresh perspective, I see everything differently and I have two stories which I am starting - projects with an international language and approach.”

- Abbas Hajimohammadi, 2014 Human Rights Fellow

Applications for the 2015 fellowship are open now! DEADLINE: Thursday, December 4th, 5pm Eastern Standard Time. Apply here!

Simone Salvo