For want of a better phrase, Tasneem AlSultan knows what's up. The Saudi-American photojournalist whose searing work has appeared in The New York Times and National Geographic among other equally hard-hitting titles, has the kind of unparalleled eye that has earned her accolades including being the first Arab female photographer to join the Canon Ambassador Program. And not before time, either. Because not only is she is capturing vignettes of life in the region in the most refreshing way possible, but she's doing it through a gendered lens, documenting what is overwhelmingly the most imporant time for women in KSA in recorded history.
Growing up between the UK and Saudi, Tasneem's global view has been distilled into images that are intimate, exposing, humanising, sometimes shocking, but - most of all - have a sly sense of wit about them. In this way, her work is reminiscent of Martin Parr; the cult Brit photographer whose photographs taken over the decades have served to chronicle a different, unvarnished side to British life in a semi-satirical, semi-anthropological way. Neither photographer swerves away from the gritty, or sometimes even the farcical, but whatever image they take, they always do it with respect for their subjects. "Remember, I make serious photographs disguised as entertainment," Martin once said of his work.
In this age of over-airbrushed post-realism, both Martin and Tasneem's work are a palette-cleansing joy. They remind us that the real world is messy, gritty - often uncomfortable - where juxtapositions can be funny, or heartbreaking, and absolutely worthy of capturing on camera for posterity. And as "serious" as Martin's work is, Tasneem's - in all its stereotype-bashing, social-rights-highlighting glory - deserves to go down in history as every bit as serious, and twice as important.
Photos: Instagram @tasneemalsultan