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Photo Archives & Agencies

1 - Photo Archives, Libary Holdings, and Collections

Arab Image Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
“The Arab Image Foundation is a non-profit organization established in Beirut in 1997. Its mission is to collect, preserve and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora. The Foundation’s expanding collection is generated through artist and scholar-led projects. There is a searchable online image database on the website. Research and acquisition of photographs is ongoing. Photos have been collected so far from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Mexico, Argentina and Senegal. The collection holds more than 600,000 photographs.”

Archives and Special Collections, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
The collections include: postcards from the 19th and early 20th centuries, the E.W. Blatchford Collection of 801 photographs of the Middle East (ca. 1880 - 1900), and The Moore Photograph Collection (1892 - 1902) of 106 black and white photos of AUB campus, Lebanon and the region.

Rare Books and Special Collections Library, American University of Cairo, Egypt
This library holds the Van-Leo Collection of 35,000 photos by the Egyptian photographer Van-Leo (Leon Boyadjian).

The Fouad Debbas Collection, Beirut, Lebanon
This collection of photographs of Lebanon and the Middle East holds 45,000 images, which includes approximately 22,000 postcards, 20,000 original printed photos (individual paper or in albums), 2,000 slides and negatives and 1,000 stereos.

Memory of Modern Egypt, Alexandria, Egypt
Alexandria Library’s digital collection of material on Egyptian history, including photos. However, they do not own all the photos they display and  sometimes information is missing or incorrect about, for example, the photographer, location, or date.

Maison de la Photographie, Marrakech, Morocco
A gallery, exhibition space, and a collection of photographs from 1870 - 1950 of Morocco.

Qatar Digital Library, provided by the Qatar National Library, Qatar and The British Library, London
The freely available materials on Gulf history, heritage, and culture include photographs, maps, manuscripts, sound recordings and more.

Archive Map
Listings of archives and collections related to modern and contemporary art history compiled by participants in the symposium Speak, Memory: On archives and other strategies of (re) activation of cultural memory held at Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, 2010. The listings cover Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

Afghan Box Camera Project
"In Afghanistan some photographers continue to use a simple type of instant camera called the kamra-e-faoree for means of making a living. The hand-made wooden camera is both camera and darkroom in one and generations of Afghans have had their portraits taken with it, usually for identity photographs. The aim of the Afghan Box Camera Project is to provide a record of the kamra-e-faoree which as a living form of photography is on the brink of disappearing in Afghanistan."

University of Chicago Library, Middle East Photograph Archive
“Most of the photographs in the Middle East Department's archive date to the second half of the nineteenth century. The archive is particularly strong in photographs of nineteenth century Cairo.” These photos were taken primarily by foreign visitors to the region.

St. Anthony College, University of Oxford, Middle East Centre Archive
“The Middle East Centre Archive holds a substantial photographic collection of over 100,000 images covering all areas of the Middle East from the 1850s. The bulk of the collection consists of early to mid 20th Century photographs with a smaller number of 19th Century photographs including Bonfils and American Colony. Major Collections include the photographs of Freya Stark and St John Philby.” These photos were taken primarily by foreign visitors to the region.

Before Their Diaspora, A photographic history of the Palestinians, 1876-1948, by Walid Khalidi
The digital version of the book published first in 1984 by the Institute for Palestine Studies, which holds the original photographs in their library in Beirut.

Institute of Palestine Studies, Beirut, Lebanon
The library at the IPS office in Beirut houses a photography collection that is not yet online, but may be accessible to researchers upon request.

Israeli State National Photo Collection
The collection includes about 500,000 photos. Most of the photos were taken by official Government Press Office photographers since 1948, while photos donated to the collection date back prior to 1948. Tens of thousands are in this searchable digital archive.

Saudi Aramco World Digital Image Archive
“Search more than 40,000 images in one of the world's largest archives specializing in historic and current images of the Middle East and the Islamic world. Most of the images online are published and unpublished images from the bimonthly magazine Aramco World, from 1964 to 2000, and Saudi Aramco World, to the present.”

PASSIA: The Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Jerusalem
Historical photos of people, places and personalities in Palestine.

Al-Mashriq
“Al-Mashriq is a repository for cultural multimedia information from the Levant (Al-Mashriq) in general and Lebanon in particular.”

Project Save, Armenian Photograph Archives
“Headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, Project SAVE's mission is to collect, document, preserve, and present the historic and modern photographic record of Armenians and Armenian heritage. Project SAVE’s archives include an extensive and diverse collection of more than 35,000 photographs that depict all aspects of Armenian life in the homeland and Diaspora, from the 1860s to the present day.”

2 - Photo Agencies and Collectives
(Based in the Middle East or providing high-quality or unique coverage of the region.)

Rawiya
An independent collective of women photographers based across the Middle East who pursue a wide range of documentary and artistic projects. Myriam AbdelazizTamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak, Tanya Habjouqa, and Boushra Almutawakel.

NAR Photos
An independent collective of Turkish documentary photographers.

NOOR
NOOR is an independent collective of photojournalists and documentary photographers focusing on contemporary global issues.

Document Iran
“Document Iran provides the latest news, features and stock images from Iran and about Iran. Document Iran aspires to provide balanced, unbiased and untainted work of photographers and artists worldwide on Iran.”

Majority World
“Majority World is an innovative business that works with talented photographers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. We specialise in high quality imagery that provides unique insights into local cultures, development issues, environments and contemporary lifestyles in these diverse continents.”

Panos Pictures
“Panos Pictures is a photo agency specialising in global social issues, driven by the vision and commitment of its photographers and staff. We believe in the photography of ideas. Not content with merely witnessing, Panos photographers seek out stories that matter with the aim of interpreting rather than simply recording. We are not afraid to take a position on current events or contemporary issues and offer perspectives that challenge commonly held assumptions.”

Redux Pictures
“Redux Pictures is an independent commercial and editorial photo agency based in New York City with photographers located around the world.”

Polaris Images
“Polaris Images represents a global network of photographers and distributes media content to editorial and corporate clients in over 30 countries.”