I’m a big fan of collaborative projects, both as a participant and as a mere observer. Iranian photographer Alireza Rostami has just finished a pretty epic one and he’s kindly shared the results with DIYP. His little film camera traveled 16,284 km (10,118 miles) between 27 photographers. The journey started in Tehran where it also ended when the last negative was shot. During its 11-month duration, the project has told a story of solidarity, trust, and collaboration between people, and it’s a story that brings back faith in humanity.
Alireza named his project Send the Camera, and it all started as an Instagram post in November last year. He chose one of his point-and-shoot film cameras (Olympus) and found volunteers for the project. He asked them if they prefer color or black and white film, and they agreed on Ilford black & white negative film. So, Alireza bought the film, loaded the camera, and sent it to the first photographer.
The rules were simple:
- Each photographer can only take one shot.
- Each person has to choose the next person in another city.
- Each photographer has to write down the exact information and details about the picture.
- The last person is always responsible for the next person.
- Each person has to pay the postage price.
Alireza started the chain, and it went on until all the negatives are shot. The photographers came from different places, and each of them sent the camera to the next one as they took one shot. The last person in this chain sent the camera back to Alireza, so he could develop the negatives and share the photos. Here’s the map of the camera’s 11-month travels:
This project sure was time-consuming, but it was worth the wait. Alireza describes it as unpredictable and exciting, which is why he found it so interesting. This project isn’t that much about the quality of the images, as it is about collaboration. It shows how much trust and accountability there has to be between people in order to form a group art project. I personally love the idea, but what I particularly like about it is that it was all done during the pandemic. The whole world has been changed and slowed down, and we need proof of mutual trust and solidarity more than ever. And it’s exactly what this project is all about.
All photographers have agreed to share their stories and photos they took. The little Olympus camera has traveled across Iran to help them tell their stories, and it brought them all together in one epic collaborative project. Take a look at the photos and photographers’ comments below, and check out more of Alireza’s work on his Instagram.
© Alireza Rostami, number 0: “My self-portrait for a start”
© Bahar Naderi, number 1: Behind The Gray
“As a part of the collaborative art project, ‘Send the Camera’, I tried to reflect upon a social and cultural
unease that is pushing us to the extremes. That of veiling. An inherited paradox, not only in terms of
ethics, but also morals and everyday behavior. The sharp boundaries are yet to be blurred and to
maintain some sort of gray, our identity and dignity are at stake…”
© Ali Yaghoubi, number 3: “Photo of the abdomen of a corpse”
© Sali Saeedipour, number 4:
“If u know my style u should looking for fruits on my photos.
I always use absolute 100 percent natural sunlight so I’ve taken this photo around 11 am”
© Mohammad Tajalli, number 5: Iran – Kashan Bazaar, untitled
© Puria Berenji, number 6: The lost
“First days of Winter 1398 When corona had not yet stepped into our lives
In those days when our arms were warmed by our loved ones
And while we didn’t feel the tiredness of that time with the passionate spirit of youth
I took this photo
And when I pressed the shutter, nothing mattered to me except how I felt at that moment.”
© Alireza Rezaie, number 7: “The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it?” (Edward Weston)
“As it was my frame, my view and my feelings, I have tried to show you what I perceive from the
environment. This is just simple, and uses two completely opposite tones in the top and the bottom of the
frame. Women are the provenance of inspiration!”
© Mercede Azizii, number 8: The Ascending
© Hazhir Heydari, number 9:
“The photo I took was on the outskirts of the city of Marivan in Kurdistan after about 2 hours of walking. The weather that day was snowy and there was some snow on the ground.”
© Yasamin Khajoee, number 10:
“When camera arrived I was really excited, I don’t exactly remember it was my birthday or the day before but I remember the feeling I was happy to be part of something bigger and it felt great”
© Mohammad Mehdi Faghihi, number 11:
“March 11 ,2020, it was officially announced that Corona has arrived in Iran. After a lot of tragic events
since October, bad news were still on our daily news headlines. I got that camera on March 11, I didn’t
want to be in the city, everything was boring, a region civilization less affected by bad conditions and a
complete picture of his true self. On the way, I saw a horse’s stables showing behind that snow-covered
mountain. The young horse wouldn’t relax for a moment, he was constantly moving, I thought maybe the
only creature that gave up on everything living was this young horse, I hit shutter button.”
© Farhood Nasiri, number 12: Abbas Kiarostami’s Single tree
“We were on the way of constitution of 5 Photo Award and this project ingrained with Abbas Kiarostami and also we were working on the Record of Documentary film about abbas Kiarostami’s single tree, I took this photo on the way to this project.”
© Ebrahim Arabbeiki, number 13: Wrong Desire
© Sooma Moghaddam, number 14: Dateless portraits
“And I just discovered … On this planet; Living beings; Unknown …! In the name of “hard soul’s” … !!!
Those who love … And hope … and alive …. !!!”
© Ramin Ghanioun, number 17: Gathering
“Photos always tell the hidden truth.”
© Mehraban BaniAdam, number 20:
“Here is the tomb of Bu Ali Sina (he is an Iranian scientist) which is located in the center of Hamedan.
A busy place.
A beautiful place that has become the hangout of most of the people of this city, including the elderly.
In my opinion, this place is a symbol of the city of Hamedan.
That’s why I took this photo here so that I can better show where I live and how I feel in this city.
A combination of the symbol of a city and the high traffic of its people.
He was a Muslim peripatetic philosopher influenced Peripatetic school by Aristotelian philosophy. Of the 450 works he is believed to have written, around 240have survived, including 150on philosophy and 40on medicine
The interesting thing about this place is that the paintings that you see in this photo are the artistic debris of a painter who has been painting portraits of famous people and personalities in this place for many years. The work with which he earns his living. A person who is an integral part of this environment”
© Nasim Mansoori, number 21:
“I had a strong desire to participate in this fascinating project and I was following the process of transferring the camera, and it came to me in an incredible way and at the height of the camera’s
despair. I have to say that before receiving the camera, my Instagram account was hacked and deleted
for a while, and after recovering my account, I received good news. I was reviewing many ideas with
myself. I had a dream one night and decided to record it. Exactly the same scene with the empty space
on the right.I did not imagine watching the exact same scene after the photo appeared”
© Mona Safari, number 22:
(Talking about Benyamin Merikhi):
“The story of our acquaintance goes back to years ago when I decided to put a note on a stranger’s bag!
just a fresh summer morning while I was on my way to the office and a stranger traveler on his way
home! It had been almost a year since I was no longer a backpacker and I had decided to work for an
advertising agency, and seeing the passenger and his big backpack had revived many of my travel
memories and I felt a deep longing. I got so much excited so wrote a note and put it in his backpack so
that he would not notice me. I wrote a note that I always wanted an unknown person to write it to me
when I was traveling and put it in my bag, funny .. ha?
After reaching for the camera and taking my photo, which itself has a separation story to tell, I decided to
choose the next person, looked at the comments below my Instagram post, and opened the first
comment that said “Me, from Isfahan “
I opened that person profile and, to my surprise, clung to the ground! It was him, that stranger traveler …
Benjamin from Isfahan, a lean, middle-height boy who has been working as a Barista in a cafe for some
time. can you believe this? I still can not!
Life always has exciting stories in its pocket and you just have to flip through this amazing book with curiosity and excitement.
Before this weird story of my note and the stranger, I had no idea that what did I want to take for my shot
but after that decided to picture my so much personal time of my life which can not be the same with
another one’s thoughts!
And now the story of the photo is really simple! if you have seen the film “Double Life of Veronique” from
1991 by “Krzysztof Kieślowski”, there is no need to explain, because then you know me perfectly, the
director has portrayed me wonderfully! From the tiniest details to the deepest feelings and behaviors of
Veronique! Oh, I must not forget to mention that I also was born in 1991 and I AM NOT
SUPERSTITIOUS AT ALL
Well, I think that’s enough for today, you better go read the next pages of the book.”
© Benyamin Merikhi, number 23:
“From the day I got the camera, I did not know what I wanted to record, I just knew I did not have more
than one picture to tell what I wanted to say. The camera was with me everywhere so that I might not
miss that image.
On a short trip to a friend’s house, I stared at the scene in front of me for an hour, because it was a
strange scene for me, Iran. It was a semi-kitchen with an open design, it was not a crypt kitchen like the
old Iran to be an exile. But that was only the appearance of the matter. Behind this seemingly modern
façade were rotten pipes, along with a double stove, one of which was broken, a leaking faucet, and
dishes sitting in its place. First of all, there was a bottle of foreign soda on the table, which probably
attracted more attention than anything else. It was in this nightmare that I fell asleep.
I woke up early in the morning with fresh light coming from the open window of the room. I stared out the
window, thinking I would pick up the camera and record what I finally found last night. The scene was a
dark room like a prison but with open windows.
With the light coming from the window, I just realized that I had spent the night in complete darkness.
Before reaching that window, the chair turned towards the light, as if someone had risen to the window
and walked away from it. I just had to get up to reach it in a few steps. But the room was so dark that he
no longer wanted to move. I was sitting in a dark prison and the way to escape had finally been found,
but it no longer made sense.”
© Babak Vahabzadeh, number 24: Saman twin towers
“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.”
© Mahdieh Orli, number 25: Slippers
“When I was a child, this model was still the toilet stone in the yards of many houses, and every time,l was worried about slippers falling and a scary giant coming out of the bottom of the well, I made the scariest scenario of my childhood, and now this old toilet I kept conceptual art from a childhood nightmare.”
© Mohammad Reza Kazemi, number 26:
“I received the camera on 6/10/2020. I was the last person in this project and I took a picture at an old traditional house in Shiraz on 20/10/2020”