History of iranian photography
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oooh, orphan Template:Essay Sheikh, Reza, and Carmen Perez Gonzalez. "From Sitters to Photographers: Women in Photography from the Qajar Era to the 1930s." Taylor & Francis. Routlegde, 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2015.  The history of Iran is a long story that dates back to ancient Persia. Persian visual art is very well known in the world for its calligraphy, and oil paintings. Both of these visual pieces help create a scene for photography to develop in early Iran. Even though photography was invented in France of 1839, Iranians took it by the reign in 1842. Iran’s documentation of its country and people can be seen through these early films, but as the country goes through a few revolutions, the interest of photography fades in Iran . Thankful the early rulers of the Qajar dynasty are credited with bringing photography and cinematography to Iran. They brought a different view of what photography was used for, as well as archived photography by the kings themselves.
1842 marked the beginning of photography in Iran, with the art of Daguerreotypes. This was brought in by the Qajar Monarch, Naser al Din Shah, who found a new love in photography. He opened the first college Dar al Fonun, in 1851, which was the first college with photography in its program. Naser al Din Shah sent a group of students from Dar al Fonun to France to learn more about photography in 1858. Among these students was Mohammad Kazem-ibn-Ahmad-e Mahallati the translator of a Persian book entitled, “The Book of Photography”. The French photographer Francis Carlihan was appointed to teach photography to Mohammad as his first student. Once a royal photography atelier is established on the grounds of Golestan Palace, Naser alDin Shah received photography lessons from both Carlihan and Mohammad. Once Carlihan and Mohammad returned to Iran in 1860 they begin experiment with cyanotype printing, and Mohammad decide to undertake stereoscope photography for the first time. By 1861 Carlihan began teaching French and photography at the Dar al Fonun school. The court painter Mirz an Abolhasan Ghaffari establishes the first art school and the first lithographic press in Tehran in 1862. From 1850 to 1880, two events helped to overcome initial inertia of this art development was the coronation of a young enthusiastic kind who created Iran’s first modern technical college on the grounds of his palace were trained and sent on photography expedition country-wide. During the 1880s the camera leaves the confines of the palace. Public photography studies are established in major cities. Photography affected society's elite—wealthy merchants, the nobility, higher echelons of provincial government and their families. During the early 1900s photography took a turn towards photo documentation. The political awakening and increase in political agitation during the last decades of the nineteenth century culminated in mass protests and eventually Iran declared in 1906 a change in the government, towards a constitutional monarchy. The next two decades consisted of images where the protagonist are framed in photographs, built, celebrated and defamed by a world of vociferous journals and pamphlets. As well as with the importation of technology so far has managed to channel a limited number of hand-held cameras into the country. The faces captured on dry collodion glass plates and printed in albumen from the nucleus of the modern Iranian middle class, studio photographers braced the tarmac. Photo documentation gains ground and photojournalism lags behind waiting for importation of necessary printing technology. Political picture postcards begin to fill the need to commemorate historical events in Iran.
During 1925 to 1945 art of photography has yet to start in Iran, the late nineteenth century Iranians believed that the camera would give them the most modern means to achieve a perfect realism that they had sought for so long. The early kings of Persia loved being photographed. The first one hundred years of Iranian photography is spelled out without the evolving dynamics of kings and citizen. Iranian photography has been categorized within the broader scope of photography of the Islamic World. In this article by Reza Sheikh, he explains how photography really stuck in Iran,” The seed was planted in fertile grounds of a culture that enjoyed a long tradition for illustrative and figurative art,”(Sheikh, Reza, and Carmen Perez Gonzalez). For the first century most Iranian photographers had no formal education in the field, but once the Dar al Funon School was opened, photography became a more public than it being just for the people in power, and it begin to let in western views in the art of photography.
The first photographic apparatuses were given to the Iranian Qajar monarch by two colonial powers of England and Russia. The Qajar Kings have a great part and are responsible for the birth of photography in Iran, also that the developments of these technologies were influenced by the personal taste of these monarchs. The royalty decided who were the photographer. Through diverse types and aspects of photography of the Qajar era in Iran, the artists followed a general frame of sub-topics this includes photography and the idea of visual anthropology as well as using photography to teach anthropology during the Qajar era. Photography became a visual record and cultural knowledge, as well as authority and visual representation. They also focused on Ethical issues in photography during the Qajar era.
Photography was introduced to Iran during Qajar era shortly after its birth in Europe. During the reign of Naser al Din Shah, (1848–1896) photography was a mean of documenting important events and ceremonies and to capture still pictures of themselves and their families. The Shah’s eldest son, Mass’oud Mirza Zell al-Sultan a powerful prince and ruler of Isfahan, he followed his father’s interest in photography and employed photographer within his court. Shiraz was one of the first cities in Iran where the art and techniques of photography were developed in Iran. The main reason is because of geographical situation on the main route linking Bushehr to Tehran. Foreign companies that had set up offices in Iran introduced modern technology and equipment. The first generation of Shiraz photographers played a significant part in development of this art. One of these photographers was Mirza Hassan Akkasbashi, who learned photography from the British in India and was the first to set up a studio in Shiraz. He caught many sights and scenes of Shiraz and documenting them for posterity. Mirza Hassan together with his three brothers and two sons were the pioneers who transformed the history of photography in Shiraz towards more of art background. Their photographs covered the news, political and social subjects, building, nature and people of wealth.
By the late 1940s portrait photography in Iran was limited only to the wealthy or those who held positions of power. The Pahlavi dynasty came into power in 1925 with ambitious plans to modernize and to establish a national education system. The modernization plans also included a ban on wearing the traditional Islamic clothing. Men were forced to abandon their traditional clothing and wear modern European style suits, and women were forbidden to wear Islamic coverings and veils while working in public sectors. Portraits from this period are clearly distinguishable due to these changes in clothing as well as a move towards more modern technology. The Pahlavi dynasty was a move towards western philosophies in many aspects especially in photography.
Naser al din made Iranian photography stand out from western photography, dating back to the 1879. The use of layer symbolic images placed the Shah in very holy position in Iranian photography. These photographic collages carry an aesthetic and social root in Iran. They allude to composition of Persian miniature paintings. Both photography and paintings were bonded in the same leatherback books in Iran. With Naser al din’s interest in photography, it became a royal art and was carried out by his court. “When Naser al dins Shah’s son Mozafar al Dinin shah promoted the spread of cinema in Iran, the royal collection thus became as a visual documentation of the country and its people and the shah as through a royal lenses,”(Sheehan,Tanya).
Naser Helped establish and shape his own approach towards photography and how he photographically represented himself and his country to please himself, his people and Europeans alike. Many western photographers portray the Middle East as a place of religious symbolism. The religious constraints placed upon Jews and Muslim communities in some regions of the Middle East have caused most photo studios to be opened primarily by Christians from the west. Photography in Iran became a fine art because of the ideal of a painted portraits at high accuracy. Since portrait painting was rooting deep in the sixteenth century the traditions contradict the widespread belief in western art history that places a limitation on Middle Eastern art. In a portrait of Naser al din with his court members in the background of the image, the shah stands in the center with a stick on his right and on his left his men are wearing traditional hats like his stand at the same level. The shah is standing in front of a painted backdrop and it’s revealing a typical studio setting for Iranian photographers. The photos also framed with some delicate golden ornaments that frame the image showing wealth. An album page in Iran is more than a carrier of an image; it is a statement that undermines the specificity of photographic representation. Only when examining the arrangement of an album page can understand the deeper meaning of the image. The albums compiled by the shah were to serve for political reasons as diplomatic gifts for European rulers. Naser al din used photography to disseminate the image of his power and his country, he also archived all his photography, as it was important documentation.
The collection of 19th century photographs at the Golestan Palace are extremely remarkable because photography in Iran arrived shortly after its invention had been announced in Europe, making the collection particularly rich in it holdings of early photographs. Second, because it was the Shah Naser Al din himself who promoted the medium and became a photographer himself. A passion for photography gripped the Qajar court and soon after spread throughout the Persian domains. The development of photography in Iran begins with the Daguerreotype at the Persian court. The Shah was highly thrilled by this new technology that he had established darkrooms in his palace. The Qajar dynasty signaled a time for change and unity of their country. The Shahs relied heavily on the visual arts to conform and solidify their positions of power. The son of Naser Al din, Mozafar alDin had a son, named Mohamad Ali Shah and he inherited a more secure position and devoted ample attention to shaping and defining the Qajar imperial image. Mohamad Ali Shah commissioned a great number of life size portraits of himself and his sons, which were placed in the interiors of his palaces and hunting lodges. Naser al Din Shah established Dar al Funon and asked photographers from western countries such as Austria, Italy and France to come teach at the academy. After the second decade of its operation the school began to offer painting, lithography, and music. Photography was vital to the court for documenting important ceremonies, military campaigns, and historic events. Photographers eventually replace court painters for such functions.
Before the Islamic revolution in Iran taking place, Iran ran under a constitutional monarchy. The history of Iranian photography was largely influenced by western views, but with ancient Persian oil painting and calligraphy, it became a new medium for many painters, and people that held power. For early Iranians photography was used for documentation of historical events, and did not become an art form, until it became available to the public. The Qajar dynasty and the Pahlavi dynasty both showed how photography became more of a western view by the Pahlavi dynasty. With Iran holding a very long history of portrait painting starting in the sixteenth century, early Iranians love for an accurate portrait was solved through photography. As this country became more western they begin to lose their interest in documentation but begin to look at photography as an art, which was held very valuable to ancient Persians.
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- Sheikh, Reza, and Carmen Perez Gonzalez. "From Sitters to Photographers: Women in Photography from the Qajar Era to the 1930s." Taylor & Francis. Routlegde, 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2015.
- Sheehan, Tanya. "Royal Photographs in Qajar Iran." Photography, History, Difference. N.p.: Dartmouth College, n.d. 57-87. Print.
- Ekhtiar, Maryam and Marika Sardar. "Nineteenth-Century Iran: Art and the Advent of Modernity". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/irmd/hd_irmd.htm (October 2004) Brusius, Mirjam. "Photography and Cinematography in Qajar Era Iran." Qajar Era Iran. St. Andrews, Aug. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2015. <http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/anthropology/nafa/qajar/abstracts/>. Sheehan, Tanya. "Royal Photographs in Qajar Iran." Photography, History, Difference. N.p.: Dartmouth College, n.d. 57-87. Print. Eskandari-Qajar, M.M. "Photography and Cinematography in Qajar Era Iran." Qajar Era Iran. University of St. Andrew, 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2015. <http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/anthropology/nafa/qajar/conference/> Miles, Robert. "Endangered Archives Blog." Endangered Archives Blog. British Library, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/endangeredarchives/2014/09/-iranian-photography.html>. Sheikh, Reza, and Carmen Perez Gonzalez. "From Sitters to Photographers: Women in Photography from the Qajar Era to the 1930s." Taylor & Francis. Routlegde, 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. “Remembering Shiraz”. Jadid Online, Dec.-Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Feb. 2015.<http://www.jadidonline.com/story/12012015/bhr/Shiraz_photography_eng>.
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