Kristen Ashburn's photographs bring us face-to-face with real people in desperate circumstances. Taking us to the intimate spaces of her subjects — the victims of war, disaster, epidemic — she elicits the sublime sadness and resolve of human beings in suffering.

Why you should listen

Kristen Ashburn's poignant photographs bring us into close contact with individuals in the midst of enormous hardship -- giving a human face to struggles that much of the world knows only as statistics and blurbs on the news. She has photographed the people of Iraq a year after the U.S. invasion, Jewish settlers in Gaza, suicide bombers, the penal system in Russia, victims of tuberculosis and the aftermath of the tsunami in Sri Lanka and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. One of her more recent works, BLOODLINE: AIDS and Family, looked at the human impact of AIDS in Africa.

Her unflinching photographs from the Middle East, Europe, and Africa have appeared in many publications including The New Yorker, TIME, Newsweek, and Life. She has won numerous awards, including the NPPA's Best of Photojournalism Award and two World Press Photo prizes.

What others say

“Ashburn's photos tell volumes about the reality of AIDS for thousands of mothers, fathers, children and grandparents.” — Dr. Seth Berkley, President, The International AIDS Vaccine Intiative

Kristen Ashburn’s TED talks

Kristen Ashburn on the TED Blog

Raise your awareness on World AIDS Day

December 1, 2009

Every year, on December 1, the globe comes together on World AIDS Day to learn more about the virus and to show support for those have been infected. Currently, there are approximately 33 million people living with HIV, while stigma and prejudice continue to cripple educational efforts in many countries. To increase our awareness of […]

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4 great talks for International Women's Day

March 8, 2009

To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we suggest these four TEDTalks gems from some amazing speakers — artists, scientists and economists who think deeply about the role of women. Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, feminism — and the power of passionate thinkers and doers: The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi […]

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Heartrending photos of AIDS in Zimbabwe: Kristen Ashburn on TED.com

October 24, 2008

In this moving talk, documentary photographer Kristen Ashburn shares unforgettable images of the human impact of AIDS in Africa. (Recorded February 2003 in Monterey, California. Duration: 4:36.) Watch Kristen Ashburn’s 2003 talk on TED.com, where you can download this TEDTalk, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of […]

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Quotes from Kristen Ashburn

When I first arrived in beautiful Zimbabwe, it was difficult to understand that 35 percent of the population is HIV positive. It really wasn’t until I was invited to the homes of people that I started to understand the human toll of the epidemic.
Kristen Ashburn
TED2003 • 255K views Oct 2008
Courageous, Jaw-dropping