An artist and fine art photographer for over 20 years, who never wanted to release any work, SHAHABODDIN GHARAVI was persuaded to publish after decades of persistent, often esoteric, study. However, rather than publish previous work, his first published photographs, NINE X FIRE, are comprised of entirely new material, produced in less than a year, but after 9 years of experimentation.
Born in Tehran, Iran, but raised in the West, provided GHARAVI a rich context to develop a fundamentally new perspective for art that occurred by combing often contradictory cultures. In this case, mixing ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, and metaphoric and temporal conceptualizations yielded not a physical hybridization, but a chemical reaction, where the final product was fundamentally different in nature and having little resemblance to the original source material.
NINE X FIRE. The Anti-Ansel Adams, if you will.
In 2016, GHARAVI refined a technique for photographing fire, used to produce the series NINE X FIRE, which can be said to be the opposite of Ansel Adams. Adams memorialized the majesty of life, mostly with natural landscapes, as you would see them if you were standing next to him. He used large format film to capture enormous, non-moving, and near-immortal subjects of the natural world. GHARAVI, on the other hand, uses digital technology to capture “poetic abstractions of fast-moving light and heat produced the moment when the transformative power of fire consumes, and thereby destroys living nature, and thereby giving birth anew”. Staying distant and safe from the subject, Adams used slow shutter speeds, where moving objects virtually disappear, wide angle lenses with shorter focal lengths, to capture enormous expanses, and the smallest aperture sizes to get pristinely focus images with near absolute deep depth of field. In contrast, GHARAVI was very close to the fire, often burned by it, using fast shutter speeds to slow or stop the flowing movement of the flames, and telephoto and macro lenses with longer focal lengths and larger apertures to get extremely narrow depth of field to allow for exaggerated bokeh and blur. While Adams produced crisp black & white images with very fine, clean grain, GHARAVI focused on moody, but vibrant color images with excessively dark, large grain patterns, often avoided by other photographers, in order to “symbolize the indistinguishable, but dynamic characteristics of undergoing metamorphosis”.