In the build up the 2014 Winter Olympics Thomas Dworzak documents the transformation of the Russian seaside city of Sochi
"I like the fact that I am not in control, that the photographs are what happens, rather than the result only of the decision I make. You could say that’s the downside of photography, but it’s also why it is magic"
- Thomas Dworzak
Thomas Dworzak decided to become a photographer at a very young age. Early on, in high school, he traveled to Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and the disintegrating Yugoslavia.
Immediately after graduating from Robert-Schuman Gymnasium, Cham (specializing in English, French, and history ) he left Germany, always combining his travels and attempts to become a photographer with studying languages. Spanish in Avila, Czech in Prague, Russian in Moscow.
In 1993, he ended up in Tbilisi, Georgia, staying on until 1998. At this time he began to discover the Caucasus, it’s conflicts (Chechnya, Karabakh, Abkhazia), people and culture which resulted in the publishing of his book, Kavkaz in 2010. The album combines pictures with excerpts of classic 19th century Russian literature (Tolstoy, Pushkin, Lermontov).
Affiliated with the Paris photographic agency Wostok Press, he began to cover news, especially the Kosovo crisis in 1999, mostly on assignment for US News and world reports.
Based again in Moscow since 2000, Dworzak returned to Chechnya. His dramatic pictures of the Fall of Grozny were widely published and received several awards. He also continued his exploration of the North Caucasus.
Dworzak became a Magnum nominee in 2000 and a full member in 2004. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, he spent time covering the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as their impact on the US.
During a several-months assignment in Afghanistan for The New Yorker, he discovered studio portraits of the Taliban; these images would form his first book, Taliban.
The images that were taken during his many assignments in Iraq, most of which were shot for TIME Magazine, were used to create his next book: M*A*S*H* IRAQ.
From 2005 to 2008, as a TIME Magazine contract photographer, Dworzak covered many major international news stories including: Macedonia, Pakistan, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Lebanon, Haiti, Chad, C.A.R., the London Attacks, Ethiopia, Iran, US presidential campaigns, Hurricane Katrina, and the revolutions in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine.
During breaks from conflict areas and war zones he regularly photographed Fashion Weeks in major cities.
In 2006, Thomas photographed the New York Marathon while participating himself.
Thomas remained in Georgia after the 2008 war with Russia. This would lead to the Magnum Group project Georgian Spring, which was a starting point for a new, several-year-long engagement with the “New Georgia” under President M. Saakashvili. In 2012, Thomas photographed Nowrooz celebrations in Georgia.
Dworzak spent 2009-2010 in Afghanistan, documenting the deployment of ISAF troops and their return home. In 2009, he also visited Iran to photograph Ashura.
A National Geographic assignment on the Sochi Olympics became later the book Beyond Sochi.
In 2013, a commission for the Bruges Museum led him to photograph the memory of WWI. This has since become an ongoing project concerning the legacy of the First World War around the world, which he plans to finish in 2018, 100 years after the end of the conflict.
Always an avid collector, Thomas started gathering Instagram screenshots of a variety of subjects and has been grouping them together into ever-growing collections of Instagram artist scrapbooks.
Besides his personal stories, Thomas Dworzak continues to cover international stories, such as the DMZ in Korea, Cuba, Colombia, China, Liberia, Arab Spring in Egypt, the war in Libya and most recently, the refugee crisis in Europe and the November 2015 Paris terror attacks.
Covering the heightened migration crisis in Europe since 2015 lead him to initiate the “Europa” guide for refugees. When covering the escalation of the refugee crisis in 2015 he concieved the idea of “Europe – a photographic guide for refugees” which was produced and distributed free of charge to migrants with the support of a Magnum Foundation Emergency Grant and AFAC in 2016.
Dworzak has also been teaching a number of workshops (Magnum, Hong Kong, Rio, Shanghai, Open Society Documentary Project, La Caixa Fotopress).