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"The true artists are the elements; I just photograph them."
Very few may describe the harsh cold winds on the borders of Iran and Iraq. Only a few photographers have faced sleepless nights in a car in the bitter cold of Alaska and seas of 30 feet just to take a photograph. Or say they have climbed Mt .McKinley almost to Death. And how about a two-month journey of climbing the Andes and sharing food with an Amazonian tribe. Banafsheh Ehtemam can.
She was born in Tehran, Iran. As a child, she took many trips with her parents. Governmental and societal upheaval, and the darkness, which accompanied them to the land she loved, caused her to leave Iran at sixteen. It was with the simple lifestyles and cultures of people in remote areas and the fantastic nature that surrounded them that she found herself most fascinated.
To break the stereotype of what is expected from Iranian women, she began traveling the roads less traveled and surrounded herself with the unfamiliar. She took the risks of unthinkable tragedies. She began to discover the beautiful risks of the invention. After all, she thought there are inseparable. So to meet with the realities of life, she stood up. After that, she never stopped climbing. She climbed higher than the person she grew up to become, higher than the shadow of fears, higher than other people's looks, and most importantly, higher than all familiar things and faces.
After living and studying in Europe for several years, she moved to the US to continue her education. In school, she discovered the genius of Ansel Adams and Richard Avedon. Shortly after, she received her first 35mm camera: a Mamiya ZM. And her love affair with photography had just begun. "To love what I do, to have it remain satisfying and challenging, is essential. Choosing photography was my only way to capture the constantly changing moments. I'm always searching. I am an explorer artist. The best artists are the elements. They continually work, color, transform, and shape themselves and us. These elements can be real or surreal. As a photographer, I like experimenting with both themes. I like visual luminosity and also spiritual quality in my images. Henry Bresson once said: "the eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
Exploring the world has been one of my favorite journeys.
Besides allowing for an extended range of creativity, the focus on symbolism, color, texture, geometry, and shape goes to the root of a viewer's psyche and evokes unconscious memory and emotion, which is essentially what art is all about.
After many years of working for corporate America, at last, Banafsheh decided to share her life's passion with others, becoming a full-time freelance photographer and a guide to remote areas of the world. Through these physical and spiritual journeys, she is helped by the four languages she speaks and the panache of traveling as a one-woman crew.
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