Kiana grew up in Tehran and moved to Toronto while she was still a teenager. Faced with the challenges of adapting to a new environment, she took up photography as a way of bridging the gap in language and culture. In 2014, a short month before NATO forces pulled out, Kiana moved to Kabul and stayed on for 8 years. Her work often explores complex topics such as migration, adolescence, identity and sexuality in conflict-ridden societies.
In 2014, Kiana was named as one of the emerging photographers by PDN 30 Under 30. In 2016, she was selected as the recipient of Chris Hondros Award as an emerging photographer. In 2017, she received a grant from European Journalism Center to do a series of reporting on gender equality out of Afghanistan and received Stern Grant in 2018 to continue her work on the state of mental health among afghan women. In 2020, Kiana received Tim Hetherington Visionary award for her proposed project to reveal the dangers of dilettante “hit & run” journalism. Later that year, she was named as the 6th recipient of James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting. In 2021, Kiana received the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal for her photographic series “Where Prison is Kind of a Freedom,” documenting the lives of Afghan women in Herat Prison. In 2022, Kiana was part of The New York Times reporting team that won The Hal Boyle Award for “The Collapse of Afghanistan” and was shortlisted under International Reporting for the Pulitzer Prize. In the same year, she was also named as the winner of Leica Oskar Barnack Award for her portfolio, “Promises Written On the Ice, Left In the Sun”, an intimate look into the lives of Afghan from all walks of life.
is a Senior TED fellow
, a National Geographic Explorer
grantee and a regular contributor to The New York Times and National Geographic. Follow her on Instagram (@kianahayeri
) where she shares bits and pieces of daily life as she travels, explores and tells stories. She is currently based out of Sarajevo
, telling stories from Afghanistan, Balkans and beyond.