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Remembering Shiraz

Shiraz was one of the first cities in Iran where the art and techniques of photography were developed. The main reason could be its geographical situation on the main route linking Bushehr to Tehran. The port of Bushehr was the main gateway for goods imported into Iran via the sea. Foreign companies that had set up offices there introduced modern technology and equipment. Nevertheless, the first generation of Shiraz photographers played a significant part in the development of this art. 


Mirza Hassan Akkasbashi, who had learned photography from the British in India, was the first person to set up a studio in Shiraz. He showed great vision for the potential role of photography by capturing many of the sights and scenes of Shiraz and documenting them for posterity. Mirza Hassan together with his three brothers and two sons were the pioneers who transformed the history of photography in Shiraz.


Their photographs covered a wide range of themes, from news, political and social subjects to buildings and nature. Two of the brothers also opened studios in Shiraz, one of which was still active and run by the founder’s eldest son until a few years ago. Photos were usually taken outdoors in order to use the natural daylight. To decorate the scene, a piece of patterned cloth draped on the wall was used as the background, further embellished by Persian rugs, pots of fresh flowers or branches of grapevine.  


Mansour Sane‘, who has studied photography at the College of Fine Arts, had written his dissertation on the pioneers of photography in Shiraz. He has published two books on these pioneers and their works, based on the documents and photographs obtained over the years. In this multimedia report, he describes their history and the importance of their work, whilst sharing with us many of these fascinating vintage photographs.

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