Of all the things I could do in my life, I never imagined that a photography exhibition in Tehran would be one of them. Instead, a few weeks ago I found myself (@eauditalie) on a plane bound for Tehran, for the first group exhibition of Hikari Creative, the Instagram photography group that Q. Sakamaki, Ako Salemi, Eric Mencher and I founded in December 2014 to create and curate artistic street photography, showcasing the best pictures from around the world. Since we launched, Hikari Creative has become a significant point of reference for artistic street photography on Instagram, which is something we’re truly proud of.
The exhibition – called Chance Encounters – was held at N.6 Gallery in Tehran and was a big success. An amazing crowd turned up for the opening and it was great to discover that in Tehran there is a wonderful community of people passionate about photography. In many ways this isn’t surprising, if you think of the great film directors and photographers that Iran has produced over the past decades and the fact that for millennia Iran has been a cradle of visual beauty.
This passion for the arts is what made our first Hikari Creative exhibition happen in Tehran instead of – for example – Rome or New York: the owner of the gallery, Mrs. Katy Dechamani, is a great fan of Ako Salemi’s work, and it was thanks to her and Ako that we founders of Hikari Creative had our first collective show.
In all I spent just three days in Tehran because my official job (which is that of creating perfumes) didn’t allow me to take more time off, but thanks to Ako’s Salemi brilliant flair for organization I was able – together with Q. Sakamaki and his wife Kuniko – to spend all of my free time photographing the streets and people of Tehran.
For me the most interesting places to shoot were the Shrine of Imamzadeh Saleh in North Tehran, the bazaars – particularly Tajrish bazaar, which is one of the oldest – and also the giant cemetery outside Tehran, which is next to Imam Khomeini’s mausoleum, still under construction.
Tehran is a city blighted by smog so, even though the sun was out, we actually never saw it. The good side to the pollution was that it gave a rather melancholy and mysterious atmosphere to most situations, which is something I really like in photography. Everybody everywhere was helpful, charming and kind, and I was able to shoot in each place as much as I wanted.
I only wish I’d had more time in Tehran. I hope to go back soon to see and photograph more of the country and its wonderful people – till then Tehran will remain in my heart as one of the most fascinating and interesting places I’ve ever been to.
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