Reza has shouldered the weight of a camera since he was 14 years old. He has witnessed both the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, after which he had to escape his native country for the United States . His exile resulted in the loss of an enormous amount of work from that exceptional period in Iranian history. During these tumultuous times, photographers were generally mistrusted by all factions across the political spectrum. Anyone attempting to document the events photographically was stigmatized as a collaborator by the government, revolutionary activists, and the average citizen alike. This meant that the political and social climate of the day made both amateur and professional photography virtually impossible. In one instance in the Iranian city of Ahwas , an incoming Iraqi missile exploded in front of a book store. When Reza began taking photos of the shrapnel lodged in the books on the shelves his camera was confiscated by outraged vigilantes and he had to beg his way out of that dilemma. Being active in the Iranian student movement and documenting demonstrations during the antiwar movement of the seventies was a risky venture forbidden by the political climate. He understands the photographer’s frightening predicament in the climate of uncertainty. Many of the portraits of friends executed later on are part of his private collection. During both the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, self-censorship and rampant thuggery in the streets led to the loss of a vital body of work. In one incident in his birthplace, Haft-Kel, a suitcase full of slides that was buried, to be retrieved at a safer time, was destroyed by flooding. Some of Reza's most cherished photos documenting the more frightening and tragic moments of the revolution and war during the late '70’s and early 80's were among the lost works. A few of the surviving works are included in this exhibit. Long after surviving those tumultuous times of arbitrary and astonishing violence, Reza still experienced institutionalized mistreatment at the hands of government agents at airports in many countries, including his adopted home, the U.S. On almost every return trip to the U.S. , customs agents have questioned him, and on several occasions, strip-searched him. This he finds more distressing than the threat of robbery by local gangs when working alone in remote areas of the world. Reza has photographically documented all areas of his life, including his school years, his family, his work, and his political activities. The central themes of his work focus on Nature - Cloud and Foliage; Reflections; colorful compositions; close-ups; and photos of various indigenous people from many Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.
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Every photographer is, in some way, a researcher contributing to a body of knowledge and understanding. The photographer furthers a cause whether environmental, political, or social, and sometimes becomes the one making history. As a photographer I tend to notice details of things around me more than other. Despite this, those with resources and opportunities at their disposal could do much more. Reza Delghavi
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