Shahin Shahablou

Shahin Shahablou (27 January 1964 – 15 April 2020) was an Iranian photographer.

Shahin Shahablou
Born27 January 1964
Died15 April 2020(2020-04-15) (aged 56)
Occupation(s)Photographer, gay rights activist


Shahablou was raised in Tehran, and obtained a bachelor's and master's degree in photography from the University of Tehran. For the last two years of his undergraduate course he worked for the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation,[1] photographing heritage sites while managing the organisation's darkroom. He taught photography, and his work was displayed in solo exhibitions in Iran and India. He became a photojournalist at the new Azad newspaper, a pro-reformist publication established during Mohammad Khatami's presidency, and became a photojournalist and a board member of the Iranian Photojournalists Association.

When Azad was shut down in 2001 after publishing a caricature of an ayatollah, Shahablou travelled to India and Afghanistan looking for documentary subject matter, resulting in well-received solo exhibitions in Delhi and Tehran. He continued teaching, and returned to Tehran University of Art to complete an MA in photography in 2006.

Shahablou was homosexual and a gay rights activist.[2] Amid growing social repression after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took power in 2005, he was imprisoned as a political prisoner for membership of a dissident group.[3]

In 2011 he fled Iran for the United Kingdom, where he was given refugee status. His work was known for capturing LGBT subjects, and he also worked as a photographer for Amnesty International,[4] and for events for Cooltan Arts,[5] alongside working in a supermarket.

Shahablou died of COVID-19 on 15 April 2020, aged 56.[6]


  1. ^ Obituary in the Guardian
  2. ^ Gleeson, David (5 May 2020). "Shahin Shahablou obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  3. ^ Bay Area Reporter: Award-winning gay photojournalist dies of COVID-19
  4. ^ Pinknews tribute
  5. ^ "Soho Society Obituary". Archived from the original on 15 May 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  6. ^ An Award-Winning Photographer Left Iran To Be Gay. Two Months After Finding Love, He Died Of Coronavirus