Massoud Hossaini was born in Kabul in 1981, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. His father’s opposition to the Afghan communist regime meant the family had to flee the country, to Iran, when Hossaini was six months old. After finishing high school in 1996, Hossaini joined the Iranian reformist movement as a political activist. After a while, he realized that he should be recording the historical events that were going on around him, and chose photography as the means of doing so.
As a refugee himself, it was too difficult and dangerous to risk photographing in the streets of Iran, so he decided to focus on fellow Afghans sheltering in Iran. He was documenting the life of refugees in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, when the events of 11 September 2001 changed his direction completely. Hossaini decided to go back to Afghanistan, at the beginning of 2002, where he joined Aina, an organization aimed at training people in media and communication skills, founded by National Geographic Fellow and photojournalist, Reza Deghati. He learned his photography skills from Reza’s brother, Manoocher Deghati, and was soon being given professional assignments. Hossaini joined Agence France-Presse (AFP) in 2007, and covered the war in Afghanistan, part of the time embedded with US troops. In doing this, he traveled to isolated villages, where he also documented local life. Hossaini’s work has twice been exhibited in Berlin, and he is currently still an AFP photographer in Afghanistan.