Zara Jarvinen a Finnish freelance photographer, researcher and aid worker, and member of the Frontline Freelance Register. Her photographic work has been published by Finnish and some German newspapers and magazines, as well as by non-governmental and international organisations. Largely focused in the Middle East, she has documented conflict and humanitarian affairs in Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Gaza and West Bank), and overall has published photographs taken in almost 30 different countries around the world. 

The Kurdish women fighters: Since 2013 she has spent some time photographing the women guerrilla fighters of the Kurdish resistance movement in northern Iraq. Together with the German reporter Ann-Kathrin Seidel, her first work was published in Zenith and Sonntag magazines in 2013/2014. A Finnish language 30min TV documentary film and photoreportage 'In the Mountains I am Free', co-directed with Wali Hashi and Heli Pekkonen, was broadcasted in the Witness series of the Finnish national YLE TV station in May 2014. She is currently working with cinematographer Heli Pekkonen to develop the project into an independent multimedia/film production, funded by the Kone Foundation and produced by Zone 2 Pictures (FIN, 2016-2019), under the working title 'Shattered Sun'.

For more information, see her LinkedIn page.

Publications and Features

Zenith (Germany), die Tageszeitung (Germany), Chrismon (Germany), Sonntag (Germany), Emma (Germany), Maailman Kuvalehti (Finland), Pakolainen (Finland), APU-lehti (Finland), Six Degrees (Finland), YLE TV Yleisradio (Finland) Mondo Magazine (Finland), Kauppalehti (Finland), Avun Maailma (Finland), Global Finland, Photographers Forum Magazine, Seurakuntalainen (Finland), Vantaan Lauri (Finland), Sakasti Ry (Finland), Lonely Planet, The Capital Times (Australia), Schmapp! (Czech Republic).

NGOs and International Organisations:

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN World Humanitarian Day, Finn Church Aid, Finnish Red Cross, Finnish Development Service Centre Kepa Ry, Finnish Refugee Council, Amnesty International, Vapaa Liikkuvuus Ry, Kummit Ry.

Book Appearances

Best of Photography, World Photography Gala Awards, hard-cover, 2013; UN World Humanitarian Day campaign, 2012; Sigma Best of Photography, hard-cover, 2012; World Photography Gala Awards juried by Steve McCurry, hard-cover, 2012; Portraits & People, WPGA, hard-cover, 2011; Colours, WPGA, hard-cover, 2011.


  • Finalist, Julia Cameron Award for Photography, 2017
  • Finalist, Pollux Awards, 2016   
  • Humanitarian B&W Photographer of the Year, World Photography Gala Awards (WPGA), 2013
  • Honourable Mention, WPGA, awarded by Steve McCurry, 2012
  • Honourable Mention, SIGMA Annual Photography Contest, 2012
  • Gold Award, WPGA Portraits & People, 2011                                     
  • HonorableMention, WPGA Colours Contest, 2011                                     
  • Finalist, Julia Cameron Award for Photography, 2011                                     
  • Honourable Mention, Int’l Photograpy Awards (IPA) 2011                                    
  • Finalist, Lonely Planet Photography Competition, 2009
  • Selected, Al-Thani International Photography Online Exhibition, 2007


International group exhibitions (Juried):

  • Pollux Awards, Documentary Series 2016
  • WPGA Best of Photography 2013
  • UN World Humanitarian Day Exhibition andPromotion Campaign Video WPGA Portraits 2012, Borges Cultural Centre, Buenos Aires  
  • Julia Margaret Cameron Award/WPGA, 2011                                     
  • World Photography Gala Awards, 2011                                     
  • WonderPick Gallery, 2011 (online) 
  • Al-Thani Intl. Photography Exhibition, 2008   
  • Al-Thani Intl. Photography Exhibition, 2007                                     
  • Trierenberg Intl. Photography Exhibitions 2010
  • Trierenberg Intl. Photography Exhibitions 2007

Solo Exhibitions:

  • 10-11/2011, The Next Generation, Culture Centre Korjaamo, Helsinki, with Maailman Kuvalehti and Tuuliaisen Säätiö. 
  • 10-11/2011, Orphaned, Culture Tram,Helsinki, with Maailman Kuvalehti and Tuuliaisen Säätiö.

Relevant Grants & Scholarships:

  • 2011 Tuuliainen Foundation
  • 2011 Maailman Kuvalehti/Finnish Development Centre
  • 2016 Kone Foundation, 24.000 EUR for documentary film + multimedia exhibition

Using Format