I want to publish my photobook in Iran

“Iran”, “Our Iran”, “Modern Iran”, “recording the truth in Iran”, “Iran, untitled”, “Desserts of Iran”, “Iranian Doors”, “Iranian Photography Now”, “A woman photographer from Iran”, “Contemporary Iranian Photography”, These are titles of the publications I find by a quick search on internet, if they are available in libraries then I can reach out to view a whole body of work of photography that has been classified in that geography. In a search like that I would definitely find a lot of travelers who published their travel work in a book or on digital media. However I was looking for a sense of photographers based in Iran who accomplished the project of book making, as Id like to have my own publication that I can easily exchange like a currency with my fellows.

Once upon a time Iran, Nazar Publication, 2006
Once upon a time Iran, Nazar Publication, 2006

I think that the medium of the photobook is the new way of representation for photography and as opposed to a gallery wall or magazine, the photobook should make the work function as a concise world within the book itself. —As quoted in The Photobook: A History, Volume 1 […].   

I myself experienced self-publishing in New York City for the first time. I wanted to challenge my work and submit it to an international photobook award. It took me six months to finish my research and choose the best design of my book, and seeing new books with different stories could make this process even longer. However it increased my interest to learn more about the role of the author, and motivation to have a better understanding on collecting ideas that were implemented into a physical object, simply like a photobook.

In the last decade there has been a trend of books on “Iranian Photography” published outside of Iran. Books with a precise title of their origin, making identity the specific character for the book and the photographers who associate their names with a great collection like this.

I’m pretty sure these souvenirs are very expensive for sale in the market inside of Iran, should it be more helpful to communicate geographical implications under the general term of Iranian Art, that aims to change contradictory realities with exotic images and emblematic of social documentary lives to be shown to the hegemonic western taste and media.

Once upon a time Iran, Nazar publication, 2006
Once upon a time Iran, Nazar publication, 2006
ILFORD films Ad, Sokhan Magazine, 1959. photo courtesy of the author
ILFORD films Ad, Sokhan Magazine, 1959. photo courtesy of the author

The history of photography in Iran began more than 150 years ago, however it doesn’t have a great influence in the global photography world since the sequence of this history hasn’t gone hand in hand with printing, therefore there is less available to be researched in books. Also, there is always lack of critical discussion on discourse of photography in Iran, which would dismiss the knowledge of global achievements in photography.

Actually, teaching photography at universities started just a few years before revolution in Iran. In the following years of war “holly defense”, an epic period for Iranian photographers emerged on documenting social and political events of their country.

Observer tales, 2012

Observer tales, 2012

In this case, the general idea of a photobook is still attributed to a selected work of photographer(s) that is documented and being seen, from a valid publication in the market.

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  • Old Tehran, Mahmoud Pakzad, Did Publication, 2003

So I decided to go to Iran and visit photographers, writers, designers and publishers and talk about the constraints and opportunities of publishing and printing. Obviously with the high price of paper and processes of printing, I couldn’t see a variety of papers or bindings and print designs used in books.

Moreover, surveillance on publishers and censorship on the text and images of every single book in the market, abide by the ministry of culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran, makes it even harder to narrow down the audience of the aspiring photobook project. Although, only by glimpsing through the work of authors who made their books available to purchase by public, you would discern the sentiments and amazing potential for ideas of visual experiments by researchers who study images from past, or young artists flourishing in the near future.


A selection of these photobooks purchased on my trip now form a collection of photobooks that are accessible on the shelves of the library of International Center for Photography. The photobooks from Iran now sit amongst existing photobooks published in different areas, times and consciousness of the world of photobooks. Hopefully these photobooks could act as a conduit for exchange between Iranian photobook clubs and photobook makers and the international community. As a vehicle for those seeking to share their thoughts and experiences and keep in touch with what is happening in the region and around the world.

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  • Book of Amnesia, Farshid Azarang, Nazar Publication, 2005

  • If you don’t see me, Shahryar Tavakoli, Nazar Publication, 2005

Considering the different forms of creative photobook production in light of the restrictions on art and limits of expression and also the funding processes in Iran, there needs to be a real attempt to create and collect culture of photobook making in that nation.

In the series- I WANT TO PUBLISH MY PHOTOBOOK IN IRAN- I will continue to review my plan to promote photobook and book publishing as mass medium in Iran, and write on the very constraints and possible opportunities on self-publishing and ongoing publications.

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