Qajar Photography Occidental and Oriental Approach

Qajar Photography

Occidental and Oriental Approach


This essay tries to use armchair studies and photograph comparing for indicating the influence of political and cultural relations between west and east countries directly and indirectly and the role of Iranian king in his territory about Iranian photography including the different approaches obtainment between Iranian and European photographers about taking photos from Iran through the Qajar era. It contains dichotic theories that are affected by western photographers’ approach from the “Orientalism” trend in 19th century and the reasons of Iranian for being reluctant about taking social documentary photographs in order to find the necessary required origin of historic reasons about the mysterious concept of Iranian photography. The conclusion of this essay shows the western visual effects, artistic culture of that century and Iranian art on Iranian photographers and the main events of them .This result introduce the aspect of Iran photography history in basis of that dichotomy to indicate the future route of this art and the relations that will perform in this “Transcultural” interactions. Since the king “Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah” enjoyed taking photographs and photography was important for him, the photography as an unknown technique was accepted by the Iranian. So, it could be the most essential factor to distribute photography and made it as a common art in Qajar Era. Here the word “European Photographer” including non-Iranian photographer who their approaches and concepts are affected and interacted by European culture. The writer mentions some prominent Iranian and European photographers as following: Āqa Rezā Eqbāl -al- Saltaneh, “Akkāsbāshī”, worked as the first professional photographer in Iran. His art works indicates both the European influence and his own style. Abdolāh Mirzā, “Akkās Makhsūs”, the first official photography teacher in “Dār -al- Fonūn”, the most professional Iranian photographer because of photograph amounts and quality and eventually, his art works was unique in comparison with other Iranian ones. Francis Carlhian who was the first official photography teacher in Iran, took photographs about Iranian portrait. Luigi Montabone could be a photographer who his arriving and photography in Iran was beginning the artistic and aesthetic motivation in Iran photography. Ernst Hoeltzer, a German engineer, in Iran. During his working in Isfahan (Jolfā) tried to take some planned and organized photographs of buildings, jobs, customs and different levels of Iranian society residences. Antoin Sevruguin is the most well-known and popular foreign photographer in Iran. He is one of the most significant characters for being a type of cultural hybridity. The European demands for anthropologic photographs were changed the European photographers’ direction to a kind of semi-documentary photography in Iran. The main order of Iranian portrait and building ones was from the king. Iranian works was first simpler but after a while they changed as composed the European paintings and the Iranian art and culture. The European photographers’ works visually derived from European painting tradition and even sometimes a little from Iranian culture and art. The cultural differentiation is the main factor to indicate Iranian and European photographers’ approaches in Qajar Era.


Keywords: Iran Photography, Qajar Photography, European Photographers and Iranian Photographers.

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