German Peace Prize for Photography | Nominee

Ako Salemi

Tehran / IR

Afghanistan: The Color Awakens


Afghanistan, having passed more than three decades of war and suffered well over a million casualties, seems tentatively poised to start the difficult path towards stability. For a generation of middle-aged Afghans, whose lives have been filled with the bitter tastes of insecurity and poverty, they feel hopeful to see a brighter future for their children and the coming generations. Similarly, Afghan women, who were for years chained under the harsh misogynistic rule of the Taliban, have begun their restless struggle to gain more freedoms. Thus, Afghanistan remains caught between its proud, distant past, its much more challenging recent history and hopes for a new future. Recent decades have seen it bruised and brutalized. Today, its people struggle to brush away the dust that has been left during the long years of war. Underneath the first layer of gray, cold struggle, they aim to once again see Afghanistan as it should be: radiant with beautiful colors.


Ako Salemi was born in 1981 in Bukan, Kurdistan, Iran. Since 2006 he has worked as a photojournalist for several important Iranian newspapers. He is working as freelance documentary photographer and filmmaker now. He is one of the founder members of an inspirational photography group called 'Hikari Creative'. One of his pics was among the best 29 Images published in Instagram in 2014 selected by Time Magazine.
He received an honorable mentions from Instagram-Getty Images 2015 and 2016 grant. His images published worldwide in Time Lightbox, The New York Times, The New Yorker, VOX, MSNBC Photography, Lens Culture, Arte TV and Instagram Blog.
His proposal about the climate change crisis in Iran won Persephone Miel Fellowship for photography of Pulitzer Center in 2016. Shadegan is his first documentary film that won IDFA 2020 Award for kids & Docs.