Kaveh Golestan was born in Abadan on July 8, 1950. He was a year old when his family moved to Tehran where he attended primary school. When he was thirteen, he left Iran for boarding school in England , and returned to Tehran after completing his studies in 1969.


He worked as a photographer and animator for various commercial companies in Iran between 1970-72. However, he began his professional career as a photojournalist in 1972 with his first freelance assignment, which he proposed: a photo essay about the paramilitary conflict in Northern Ireland for the daily newspaper Kayhan. During the next few years he worked for an international company Franklin Publications, which produced school textbooks for Iranian children. Kaveh provided the company with photos of children from all over the country so it could see who was reading its books.


In 1974, after receiving funding from Iran’s Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, Kaveh published an educational children’s book titled “Ghalamkar” about the ancient Iranian craft of block printing onto fabric. He later worked on another educational children’s book with the Institute, “Golaab”, which featured the traditional art of extracting rosewater.


Over the following years he exhibited a number of works in various galleries in Tehran . In 1975 he had an exhibition showing the everyday lives of children at the Seyhoun Gallery, where he also exhibited a series of innovative Polaroid collages in 1976 titled “Az Div o Dad”. The collages were inspired by a few lines of a poem by Molavi (better known in the West as Rumi) that refer to “the weary search for human beings in a world inhabited by wild beasts”.


In 1977, Kaveh continiued to work as a photjournalist and began working for the newspaper “Ayandegan”, for which he compiled many reports on the lives of Iranians; subjects included labourers, prostitutes and a hospital for mentally ill children. Kaveh featured these works in an exhibition at Tehran University entitled “Roospy, Kargaar va Majnoun”, which was closed down by the authorities after a week. He reacted by making sure his photos were then displayed at an art gallery in full view of Iran’s Empress Farah a few weeks later, which led her to remark that he had a “very dark view of life”.


Kaveh’s wide-ranging work documenting the Islamic revolution of 1979 featured in such publications as “Time” and “Tehran e Mosavar”. In 1980 he was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for “superlative photography requiring exceptional courage and enterprise abroad”.


Also in 1980, Kaveh independently published a book of photos in collaboration with another Iranian photographer, Mohhamad Sayad, entitled “Shooresh” (Rebellion), which documented social and political events during the Revolution.


Kaveh spent much of 1980 on the frontline of the Iran-Iraq war working for various international photo agencies. He also worked with a group of Iranian photographers on a series of books entitled “Enghelabe Noor” (The Illuminated Revolution), and published a book in collaboration with his wife, Hengameh Golestan, titled “Goncheha Dar Tufan” (Buds in the Storm), about the lives of children and young people during the revolution and war.


Kaveh moved to London with Hengameh and their newborn son in 1984 and began work with the Reflex photo agency. He continued to travel to Iran to cover the war and other events, sometimes making up to ten or twelve trips in a single year.


In 1991 he was approached by Channel Four to make a film about his work and professional life. Reluctant to make a film about himself, Kaveh decided instead to make a documentary called “Recording the Truth”, about media censorship in Iran. The twenty-seven minute film, part of the channel’s “South” program, was a candid, detailed portrait of the way in which the press functioned after the Revolution, under continuing government restrictions. The film resulted in Kaveh being banned from working in Iran by authorities; he was placed under house arrest for two years. It also marked the end of his photographic period, as he now moved to video in order to make use of increasingly available modern technology.


In 1994 Kaveh began working as a cameraman for the Associated Press Television Network, an international news agency that provided footage to worldwide channels such as CNN and BBC. He wanted to take full advantage of the immediate nature of satellite broadcasts to continue documenting life in his country.


During this time, he also began teaching photojournalism at Tehran University, and was enthusiastic in encouraging a new generation of young Iranian photographers through projects such as “Char Negah” (Four Views) in 2002. The book had originally been proposed as a project by British Petroleum (BP) to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of Laurence Lockhart’s first trip to Iran in 1922. Lockhart, the financial manager for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company - the precursor to BP - made documentary photographs of Iran. In characteristic fashion, Kaveh agreed to do the project on the condition that in addition to Lockhart’s photography, the book would also show the work of Iranian photographers from the same regions Lockhart had photographed, in an attempt to provide a more truthful, indigenous view of the subject. All the photographers were Kaveh’s pupils.


In 1999, he began working with the BBC’s Tehran bureau as the cameraman on Jim Muir’s reports. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani - later President of Iraq - once told him “Regardless of the content of your reports, your images are beautiful”.


On April 2, 2003, while on assignment in Kifri, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kaveh stepped on a land mine and was killed instantly.

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