I am pleased to introduce Faramarz Asadollahzadeh to all of you. Faramarz is a street photographer in Tehran. He is also the manager of See Magazine, a photography project that highlights new, young photographers. His images are bold and colorful. While the photos for this interview are quiet and lovely in their observations, his work can be gritty and truthful about life in the city. And, through his photographs we see the human condition and our emotions are truly “cosmopolitan”.
How would you like your photography to be known?
My ideal is “no photography occurs without paying attention to my emotions and imaginations.” I have no preconceived notions about what I want to photograph. Today’s reality is what will be. There is no agenda or point of view expressed. Everyday I wake up and feel I’m in a different “place” and I understand the truth about these subjective feelings.
I practice photography without regard to the future, or whether I am successful or not. I don’t have a map of “success” - just a good sense of photography. Learning, to me, means being prepared and have the openness of mind to not judge about the future and success. I find new doors suddenly open!
How did you develop as a photographer? What inspired you to grow and learn more as a photographer?
I developed a horrible drug addiction. At age 29, I entered a 12 step program (Narcotics Anonymous). I am now sober 11 years and 5 months. The pain and suffering caused by the addiction led me to Buddhist teachings and meditation. I went to a lady in Tehran, Rana Bastani, who learned from Shambala Meditation Institute, in San Francisco. She brought home the teachings about Buddhism. I also learned about Krishnamurti, whose teachings now light my way.
Rana had a CD about Miksang photography and it “hit” me. I now practice what is known as Miksang photography as I take photos of life in the city.
(Editor note: Miksang is a form of contemplative photography that asks us to see our world in a new way. Miksang means ‘Good Eye’ in Tibetan and is the ability to see the world in a pure way, without expectations and layers of our own thoughts, meanings and prejudices. It is as if the world is manifesting itself to us in a new way - as it is.)
(Miksang requires stillness of mind, patience, and the desire to really see what is there. )
Do you have a guiding philosophy or purpose that shapes your photography?
My philosophy is objective and cosmopolitan - a world without borders, or national, political, religious thinking and show that all human beings are suffering.
Buddhist teachings are very helpful to me and the search for truth is my religion. I focus my photography about life in the city. I want my photography to show a world without political, national and religious boundaries. I want to show that all people are the same in our thoughts and in our sufferings despite those boundaries.
note: Faramarz is using the word cosmopolitan in this context:
- free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments;
- at home all over the world.
- belonging to all the world; not limited to just one part of the world.
- a person who is free from local, provincial, or national bias or attachment; citizen of the world;
Your street photography is very colorful & sometimes very CLOSE to your subjects. Do people agree to be in your photos or do they even know you are taking their photo?
The cell phone camera is silent and people are afraid of the large camera. They don’t understand why I want to take their pictures.
In Iran, even modern women suffer from this issue of patriarchy. It bars me from asking them permission to take their picture. I can not ask them for permission to take their photograph. They (patriarchy) believe women are weak creatures and should be protected from the men. But nobody questions do I ask the men if they will let me photograph the women or not.
The silence of a mobile phone/camera is a great help for a natural picture. I think people have an image of themselves and may be self-conscious if they knew I was taking their picture.
I love to make films about human characteristics that are shared and common among us. I want to make films about inner human freedom and compassion without the constraints of nationalism.
Please tell us about See Magazine_ir. and how you came to be involved with it.
I saw young and unknown photographers (like myself) who were not getting attention. All the attention was going to the rich and famous photographers. Maybe we could introduce these young photographers to other people. My friend, Miss Mehan Tehrani, wanted to cooperate with an electronic magazine featuring these unknown photographers. We believe introducing these young photographers to the world is the best way to help. Maybe the young photographers can make some money, if people know about them.
You can follow Faramarz’ work on social media:
I am extremely grateful Faramarz shared his work and his thoughts with us. His photos provide a glimpse into his country.
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.
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