Isabel Azkarate

It is time to grant the deserved professional recognition to the woman considered the first female photojournalist in the Basque Country. The work of this unrepentant traveler and fearless photojournalist is represented by the Photographic Social Vision Foundation.

Get to know the Isabel Azkarate Archive in her web and Instagram


An extraordinary work

In her work as a photojournalist, she has documented poignant social and political issues, including reports on the day-to-day life of the Basque conflict in the hardest times of the 80s, about the terrible attacks of Sensero Luminoso in Peru, or those dedicated to women collective and urban tribes.

For more than a decade, she was the official photographer of the San Sebastián International Film Festival, she also photographed during 80s and 90s the jazz festival in the same city Donostiako Jazzaldia, and has been a witness to the national and international cultural scene, chronicling concerts and portraying characters like the Dalai Lama; multitude of international artists such as, for example, Arthur Miller, Julian Schnabel, Bette Davis, Jacqueline Bisset, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Tina Turner, Patti Smith, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Iggy Pop or Iron Maiden; and, of course, also national artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Gabriel Celaya, Antoni Tàpies, Jorge Oteiza, Javier Mariscal, Miquel Barceló, Ivan Zulueta, Bibi Andersen, Sara Montiel, Albert Pla, Kortatu, Loquillo, Siniestro Total, or Fabio McNamara, among many others.


Isabel Azkarate, surrounded by other photographers, in 1988. Photograph taken by the filmmaker Roman Polanski with Azkarate’s own camera at the San Sebastián Film Festival.


Nomad trajectory

Born in 1950 in Donostia, between the late 70s and early 80s she studied photography at the Barcelona International Photography Center and at prestigious New York centers such as the Visual Studies Workshop (VSW), the School of Visual Arts (SVA), the International Center of Photography (IPC) or The New School in Manhattan. During that time, she captured very powerful images of New York City. As a great traveler, Azkarate has also made reports in places as diverse as Brazil, Bali, Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan or Turkey.

She has also been a photographer for the Guipuzcoa Provincial Council,  and has collaborated in publications such as Diario Vasco, La Voz de Euskadi, El Periódico de Catalunya, El País, Interviú, Tiempo, Dunia, or Mujer Hoy.

Isabel (standing by the door), at her house, in 2021. She is accompanied by Marta Saiz; Silvia and Imma from Photographic, and the Rec Produccions team that shot the chapter dedicated to Azkarate for the docuserie “Detrás del Instante”. © Imma Cortés


A fruitful and active archive

Photographic Social Vision has spent more than a year investigating the photographer’s archive and developing exhibition projects and actions that reveal her long and interesting career.

In May 2021, the docuserie “Detrás del Instante” of La 2 de RTVE, which reviews the life and work of the best photographers in the country focusing on some of their most outstanding works, dedicated a program to Isabel Azkarate. You can retrieve it at this link.

In August 2021, she opens the exhibition “Isabel Azkarate: Arte y parte”, a unique exhibition that highlights her insightful look at the art world and her close ties with numerous artists. It is produced by the Soria City Council, and will take place at the Espacio Alameda in the same city.

In addition, we are currently preparing an upcoming anthological exhibition that will undoubtedly consolidate her work as it deserves in the history of national photography.


  • Bette Davis en el Festival de Cine de San Sebastián, 1989. © Isabel Azkarate
  • Muerto en enfrentamiento con la Guardia Civil en el alto de Oyarzun, 1984. © Isabel Azkarate
  • Concurso Miss Universo Gay. Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 1986. © Isabel Azkarate
  • Barbero en una calle de Pakistán, 1997. © Isabel Azkarate
  • Txapela. Mercado de Ordizia, 1988. © Isabel Azkarate
  • Nueva York, 1980-81. © Isabel Azkarate
Presentation of the chapter of "Detrás del Instante" dedicated to Isabel Azkarate in La 2 de RTVE.