Photographer

Documentary

Men of God

I had always wanted to work on a photo essay about the everyday life of an Islamic cleric, because there is a great distance between their lives and those of the general public. They always speak of “saving humanity”, and this interested me. Clerics throughout Iran’s history have always had a political influence. I wanted to see them in their ordinary lives.

 

I was introduced to Haj Amjad by a religious friend of mine. Haj Amjad studied Islamic morality and ethics for fifteen years under Ayatollah Ghazi and Ayatollah Behjat, two notable theologians. His is originally from Kermanshah, where he served as the imam for Friday prayers for several years.

 

When I first travelled to meet Haj Amjad in 1997, I took some of my other photos and reports with me to show him. I explained that I was trying to record contemporary life in Iran. I told him that I usually chose a social group to follow and document over a period of six months to a year. Haji Amjad quickly warmed to the idea and invited me to attend morning prayers the following day at the Imam Khomeini School.

 

I always tried to be as respectful as possible to the group. I did not want to be an unwelcome guest. I always stayed completely silent, and kept in the background. I wanted them to understand that I had only come to observe their way of life. I was interested in witnessing their lives, not judging them.

 

The “talebs” (students) were mostly simple people from small villages in rural areas, and many had religious backgrounds. Very often they had been encouraged to take up religious studies by a member of their family or a family friend who was already a cleric.

 

I have even seen Haj Amjad sleeping. While he sleeps his students gather around him, believing his breath will bring them grace. They even pour their tea into Haji’s cup and drink it, believing it to be blessed.

 

However, I remember once when Haji Amjad asked everyone to be quiet and to simply think. While everyone sat there, meditating, I moved amongst them taking photos.

 

The clicks of my shutter echoed through the mosque, breaking the silence. I will never forget that moment, the beautiful sound of my camera's shutter as it recorded the silence of life.

 

Omid Salehi -  1997

Galleries...

Book

Video Art

In this booklet I’m going to share the conversations I had with my landlord over 5 months. Dealing with him showed me the real life in the UK. Not the one that you read in books or see in movies. An unofficial but true experience.

This video shows my passport picture. And it depicts how irritated i get when I am at a passport control and get bombarded and interrogated with thousands of un-related questions.

Video Art

Video Art

Video Art

This work compares a child's exciting attempts to acquire fundamental skills to my own struggles with learning basic necessities to cope with the new world.

Here, the cliché of James Bond, shot in London, resonates with the question about migrants’ labour and their everyday life.

In this video I wanted to show the complicated network of power relationships that an ordinary migrant falls into when s/he comes to the west.

Sound & Photography

Art Photography

Art Photography

A close look at Soho brothels: "Their rooms were colourful and intimate — yet still the scenes of rough, cold sadness."

A blend of my life in Iran and Britain depicted in a virtual trip by Google Maps.

"Being a child on the front line, surrounded by a heavy military presence, was surreal. Like many teenage recruits there, I didn’t fear the war..."

Video Installation

Newspaper

Book

A group video installation about censorship: this project was inspired by a small collection of unfinished Michelangelo paintings, on display at the National Gallery.

A self-narrative about the quest to find a new home.

Facebook stories of the Iranian diaspora.

Multimedia

Art Photography

Art Photography

While many people immigrate their roots remain untouched. This project is about people who have a fractured live torn from their loved ones.

A journey into the last days of a most courageous girl, who fought her brain tumour, right to the end.

Walking along any street, there’s a chance of an eye watching you from behind a two-way mirror, or a doorbell camera. All of a sudden your privacy is gone.

Documentary

Documentary

Documentary

The lives of truck drivers are hard: they long for homeliness — which they try to create through images of celebrities, and verses from the Quran, etc.

Many people pose in front of these, clearly unrealistic collages of the Imam Reza Shrine, as a souvenir of their pilgrimage.

A journey to south of Iran where sugar cane workers burn the canes before harvesting them. They cut the cane with a sharp sickle and frequently injure themselves.

 

Documentary

Documentary

Documentary

A dancer who was prisoned for two years after the Islamic Revolution founded a private dance after she was freed.

 

An after effect of Iran-Iraq war the was portrayed in the life of a soldier who spent his last 18 years of life in a coma.

 A glimpse of a cleric's daily life in Iran who was the religious teacher of young "Talebs" (students).

Documentary

Documentary

Documentary

"Champion mother" was tattooed on Bahram's arm. A street boy who was forced to go to the streets and perform acrobatic techniques to provide for the family.

She takes the boat all the way into the heart of the sea, sits quietly in her boat, she pulls up her net and takes her daily ration.

These homeless children in Shush Square, one of the most deprived regions in Tehran, snatched watermelons from moving vans.

Documentary

Documentary

Documentary

Vaccination was my first series from 1990, when I was still 17. Its concept and mission were to showcase children’s pain, via their mothers’ faces.

Iranian men must spend two years to fulfill the compulsory military service and they have stories to tell for the rest of their lives.

The life of mentally ill in Salami Village in Shiraz. Some patients died because of infections caused by eating their own faeces.

 

All images Copyright © Omid Salehi