European photo collections contain several highlights of photography in Iran, illustrating
its evolution as well as the oeuvres from several photographers presenting their
first fragile images, professional views or snapshots.
The International Museum for Family History is planning to host an exhibition that
brings together the highlights of a centennial of photography presenting an overview
of a field of expression that has undergone continual change and transformation since
its early introduction to Iran.
Photography in Iran (1850-1950)
The Qajars, who ruled from 1779-1924, were keen on maintaining Persia’s position
as a crossroads between Europe and Asia, and were therefore interested in importing
modern technology from the West, such as photography, to advance their dynasty.
It was Nasser ed-Din Shah Qajar’s (1848-1897) own interest in photography that established
the medium’s foothold in his country. At the age of thirteen, four years before he
ascended the throne, he, along with his uncle, Prince Malek Qassem Mirza Qajar, learned
from the Frenchman Jules Richard how to take daguerreotypes. Throughout his reign,
the Shah employed photography as a means of learning about the status and well being
of his country. And for this reason, among others, he commanded many photographers
to take photographs of a wide range of topics. His contributions to the development
of photography in Iran include the founding of a photographic institute (Akkāskhanah-ye
Mobarak-e Homayouni) in the Golestan Palace as well as the Department of Photography
at Tehran’s Dar ol-Fonoun (the Polytechnic Institution founded in 1851). His royal
patronage resulted in the purchase of photographic equipment, the teaching of photography,
and support in writing and publishing treaties on the science and aesthetics of photography.