Sonja Hamad (b. 1986 in Damascus, Syria) is a documentary photographer whose work investigates the reality of conflict in Kurdistan, a geo-cultural territory in Western Asia.
Raised in Germany, Sonja studied photography at Ostkreuzschule in Berlin from 2009 to 2013. Her graduation thesis, Wenn’s drauf ankommt, established her propensity for using portraiture to explore the intimate intersections between personal and cultural identity. Prevented from returning to Syria for her research due to the outbreak of war, she instead focused her study on family, friends and strangers in Germany, examining concepts of foreignness and belonging. In particular, her photography explored the relevance of cultural identity to a personal understanding of the self. Occasionally suspended in moments of contemplation, but more frequently confronting the observer with a direct stare, Hamad’s subjects possess an aura of measured confidence. Through Sonja’s sensitive approach, each photograph becomes the purview of its subject; her sitters assert the right to withhold as much of themselves as they reveal.