“The true artists are the elements, I just photograph them.”
Not many photographers have faced sleepless nights in a car in the bitter cold of Alaska and seas of 30 feet just to take a photograph. Very few may described the torturous cold winds on the borders Iran and Iraq. 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. 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 with. Governmental and societal upheaval, and the darkness, which accompanied them to the land she so loved, caused her to leave Iran at the age of sixteen.
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 invention. After all, she thought there are inseparable. So in order 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 the looks of other people and most important of all, higher than all familiar things and faces.
Living and studying in Europe for several years, she moved to the US, to continue her education. School brought the discovery of the genius of Ansel Adams and Richard Avedon. Shortly thereafter, 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 very essential to me. Choosing photography was my only way to capture the constant changing moments. I’m always searching perhaps more of an explorer than an artist. I believe the best artists are the elements. They are continually working, coloring, transforming and shaping themselves and us. These elements can be real or surreal. As a documentary photographer, I like to experiment both themes in my work. I like a visual luminosity and also a 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 journeys of the physical and the spiritual, she is helped by the four languages she speaks and the panache to travel through the world as a one-woman crew.