Born in Ethiopia in 1974, Aïda left the country at a young age and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985.
In 2000, Aïda graduated with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington D.C. After graduation she worked as a photojournalist at the Washington Post, however, her work can also be found in several international publications.
As an exhibiting artist, Aïda’s work has been shown in South Africa, Mali, Senegal, Egypt, Canada, United States of America, France, Germany, England, Norway, China, to name a few countries. A collection of her images can be found in the permanent collection at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Hood Museum, The RISD Museum of Art and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States.
Aïda is the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy, a 2018 CatchLight Fellow in San Francisco, USA. In 2019, she also became the first black woman to co-curate the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition while serving as a Canon Europe Ambassador.
As one of the leading experts on photography from Africa, Aïda has been a jury member on several photography competitions, most notably the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 and the World Press Photo Contest 2017. She has also been on various panel discussions on photography, such as the African Union cultural summit, Art Basel, and Tedx/Johannesburg. In 2019, Aïda also gave the renowned Sem Presser Lecture at the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam.
Her work has been featured on notable publications and news outlets, such as the New York Times, TIME, The Atlantic, Vice, OkayAfrica, The Guardian, Elle Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, CNN Style, and BBC. In 2019, her piece (commissioned by WaterAid), The Sorrows We Bear, served as one of the 24 Magazine Covers About Climate Change for Washington Post Magazine.
Aïda is the founder and director of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa hosted since 2010 in the city of Addis Ababa. She continues to educate, curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art) for Africa Creative Consulting PLC (DFA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.