Portrait Photographs from Isfahan

Portrait Photographs from Isfahan

Faces in Transition, 1920–1950


9780863565533 November 2004 Paperback 263pp 16 pages of colour illustrations and 256 duotone

About the Book

The establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 meant women were forced to wear the hijab, and photographs of them uncovered were forbidden. As a result, many photographers studios were burnt to the ground, while remaining archives of invaluable glass-plate negatives were left to moulder in attics.

Parisa Damandan spent over ten years accumulating an impressive collection of pioneering early twentieth-century photographs from her hometown of Isfahan. Recently emancipated women posing in various state of dress; Polish war refugees on their tortuous journey home after fleeing the Nazis; men in fashionable hats or in traditional turbans and cloaks – these portraits offer a remarkable window on the changing face of Iranian society during a period of transition from a traditional to a modern culture.

Alongside these stunning images are essays on the development of portraiture in Isfahan, the social dimensions of portrait photography in Iran and the power of the gaze.

About the Author

Parisa Damandan was born in Isfahan, Iran in 1967. She has a degree in Photography from the University of Tehran.


‘Excellent ... beautifully produced.’
Saudi Gazette

'Reveals as much about how photographers worked in the first half of the 20th century as it does about how people in those times saw themselves, how the identity of a nation took shape, fell apart and reformed against a backdrop of industrialization, modernity, political change and looming revolution and upheaval.'
The Daily Star

‘A fascinating record of social change.'
The Middle East in London

‘Highly recommended’