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Mashad’s Digital Souvenirs

Almost everyone who goes on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mashad would like to record their visit by taking their photographs in front of the shrine of Imam Reza. In the old days, when photographs were taken only in professional studios, this was achieved by posing in front of monochrome scenes of the shrine hand painted on a fabric wall-hanging.

Years later, street photographers moving around with their cameras in the shrine area invited visitors to have instant photographs taken. Later on, when photography was prohibited inside the shrine area, they moved outside setting up studios in the vicinity of the shrine. The same painted wall-hangings depicting scenes of the shrine were used as the background, but now they were in colour.

Nowadays, the development of digital photography and particularly the Photoshop have opened up a whole new world of possibilities. The painted backgrounds have become completely redundant, replaced by digitally created imaginative scenes and even fancy outfits.

Studios have proliferated around the shrine, inviting visitors to have their photos taken which are then superimposed on a variety of colourful scenes. They can choose not only their favourite scene but any outfit from Arabic headdress and robes to a suit and tie. Little girls can appear as angels, complete with a pair of wings and a diamond- studded tiara.

In this multimedia report, we watch one of these bustling studios in action.

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