The documentary photographer Sonja Hamad was born in 1986 in Damascus, Syria, to Kurdish Yazidi parents. At the age of three, the family moved to Germany.
Her family moved to a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Sonja lived until finishing school. The next two years she has been working as creative assistant for a commercial photographer in Hamburg.
Sonja studied photography at Ostkreuzschule in Berlin from 2009 to 2013 and graduated with the portrait-project
“Wenn’s drauf ankommt” (“When it counts”). Because of the upcoming war, she could not travel to Syria to do research for her subsequent project. As a result, she continued the work in Germany. Searching and tracing identity between foreignness and belonging led to portraits of family members, friends, and strangers. By and during this project the quest of cultural identity had become a subject of personal and intimate relevance to Sonja instead of being primarily considered politically.
In 2013 she started the project “Jin, Jian, Azadi – Frauen, Leben, Freiheit – die kurdischen Freiheitskämpferinnen”
(“Jin, Jian, Azadi – Women, Life, Freedom – the Kurdish freedom fighters”), which was explicitly intended to be political. Based of contacts stemming from her portrait-project and by a scholarship from the VG Bildkunst she was able to take on her documentary work in Northern Iraq in March 2015 followed by a trip to the KurdishWomen’s Protection Units (YPJ) in Northern Syria and a second stay in September 2015. The still ongoing project will entail a third journey in the middle of October 2016.
Sonja Hamad is living and working in Berlin, where she is also acting as a freelance photographer for a range of high-quality magazines and various private and professional clients.