Publishe Date: 8:10 AM - 2/4/2017 | Print

An Italian photographer: I was surprised by Iranian kindness

Culture - Massimo Rumi is an Italian photographer who lives in London but makes the globe his home. From a corporate career – and the lifestyle that goes with it – Massimo turned his lens inwards before embarking on an adventure far removed from the finance world.

Fahimeh HasanMiri: Massimo’s travels take him to distant corners of the earth to capture images of beauty, danger, wonder and harmony. His camera freezes rare moments in time but the emotions he evokes through his imagery live on.
He travelled to Iran last months age an took many pictures called “Once Upon a Time in Iran”. He says:” The diversity of the natural environment and the ethnic composition of Iran have created diverse forms of rural settlements with varying aspects.
Most of these villages ,which portray an interesting and wonderful visage of ancient Iranian civilization, are registered by UNESCO and other UN organizations.
The same images could have been taken one hundred years ago and things would still look the same. The common denominator of all the villages i visited was human kindness. The warm smile of the people was the only language i could understand.”
Follow KhabarOnline’s interview with Massimo Rumi in continue:

Please tell us about yourself as a photographer.
Photography and traveling are for me two passions that come together . I started taking photos as a hobby when I was at University, but it was only since 2013 that I started shooting with a professional camera, and less than two years since I left my Corporate job to fully focus on my passion. I am now a full time freelance photographer and travel the world driven by my curiosity to discover and explore different cultures.
I usually travel with small cameras because I like to be discreet and don’t want too much attention. My style is about capturing candid moments in people’s daily life , without being too intrusive and with respect of the different cultures I come across around the world.
For me, photography is not about creating a technically perfect image. It’s about feelings, opening up and seeing the beauty that surrounds me. It’s about capturing the fleeting moment, that moment that tells a story.

Why did you choose Iran?
To be honest, all I knew before visiting your Country, was some Persian history I learned at school, the beautiful Iranian carpets, and the bad propaganda post revolution . I knew nothing about Iranian people and their way of living.
In the last two years I travelled non stop to remote places such as Antarctica, Mongolia, Ethiopia, India, Iceland, etc… and it was in one of my last trips that I met a person who had been to Iran and told me about his travel experience.
He described a completely different picture than the one I had in mind, influenced by the bad reputation Iran has abroad. This encounter prompted me to do some more research on Persian culture which lead to planning my first trip to Iran.

How was your trip?
My plan was to spend ten days in Iran, but I ended up staying one month changing my flight twice. It is very easy to travel around. Internal flights are cheap, but VIP Buses are a great way to explore the country, and you can travel overnight.

Which cities or villages have you seen in Iran? which was the best?
My journey took me to Teheran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kerman, Kashan, Abyaneh, Tabriz, Kandovan, Urmia lake, Sanandaj, Marivan ,and the Hawraman valley. The hole grail of Persian architecture are Isfahan and Shiraz , but everywhere you go you find something that will surprise and amaze you. From the troglodyte villages around Tabriz, where people lifestyle has not changed much over the years, to the incredible hospitality of Kurdish people in the Kurdish Province, or some of the oldest Bazaars in the world such as the ones in Yazd, Tabriz or Kashan.

What was the most interesting or worst experience?
I didn’t have any bad experiences whilst in Iran. Apart from booking the first night in a hotel in Teheran , I decided not to have a set itinerary. I wanted to be flexible, letting the day unfold randomly , and this way of travelling lead to some interesting times. I loved the rural side of Iran , all those remote villages with a timeless atmosphere , where the same images I took could have been taken one hundred years ago and things would still look the same.

How was people’s behavior?
Well, Lonely Planet’s guide ranks People has the number one attraction in Iran, and now I understand why.
Maybe it has to do with years of sanctions that did cut off the country from the rest of the world for so many years, or maybe is genetic, but Iranian hospitality is overwhelming and almost embarrassing. During my stay I felt as if I could trust anyone, and the support I got from local people made my journey effortless and enjoyable.
I was surprised by how much freedom I had as photographer to wander around and capture unposed moments in the local daily life. Of course, it is important to show respect for those cultural aspects that we, as foreigners, sometimes struggle to understand and accept in the Western world.

What’s difference between Iran and other countries you’ve seen.
Iran ranks seventh in the world in terms of possessing historical monuments and is recognised by UNESCO as being one of the cradles of civilization. The historical importance, the diversity of the natural environment, the ethnic composition , make Iran an interesting travel destination. But, what makes it different from all other countries I visited is the overwhelming hospitality and the pride of Iranians for their Country. I was also surprised to see a fairly open and modern society.

What’s your idea about women’s position in iran.
Although not having as much freedom as women in the Western culture, I had the impression that women in Iran are very strong, educated and opinionated. In Teheran I saw a reality far away from the stereotypes when it comes to the dress code, with some women looking very stylish without breaking the Islamic rules.
I was aware of the fact that women in Iran do not have equality with men , but in my short time spent in the country it didn’t feel as bad as I had imagined. I can’t say more because I didn’t spend enough time to fully understand all the daily challenges that women face in a male dominated society, so I can only tell about my first impressions and based on the interactions I had whilst visiting Iran.

Would you like to see iran again?
I would love to come back and spend more time in Tehran in order to learn more about the impact of modern life on religious ideology. This for me was my first trip and I could only get some general insights about a culture that has so much beauty to share .
 

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