Zana Briski was born in London, England and lives in New York City. After earning a master’s degree in theology and religious studies at the University of Cambridge, she studied documentary photography at International Center of Photography in New York.
In 1995, Zana made her first trip to India to document the lives of women. Her work earned a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a National Press Photographers Association Picture of the Year Award.
In 1997, she returned to India and began her project on the prostitutes of Calcutta’s Red Light district. For this work she received fellowships from the Open Society Institute and the Alicia Patterson Foundation and was twice a finalist for the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography. Zana was also awarded a first prize at the World Press Photo Foundation, a Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Howard Chapnick Grant for the Advancement of Photojournalism.
From 2002 to 2003, Zana taught photography to the children of prostitutes in the brothels of Calcutta. The photographs produced by the children were auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York and presented in Amnesty’s International’s 2003 calendar.
In 2005, Zana won the 77th Academy Award for Feature Documentary for her film Born Into Brothels. Inspired by her work in Calcutta, Zana founded Kids with Cameras, a non-profit organization to empower marginalized children through the art of photography. Her first book, Brothel, will be self-published later this year.