Malleable Mosques

Volume 48, Issue 3 :: Photographs and Text by Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji

As a 24-year-old student of Physics I am fascinated with how the elements of the physical world can potentially enthrall us. As a photographer for the past five years, I am drawn to document the material places that capture culture in creative ways. In my native Iran, mosques are some of the best examples of this.

For me, symmetry, repetition, controlling the light, and tiling are the most important characteristic of mosque architecture. The interesting part is that almost all of the mosques that are intact are being used to this day. I always try to illustrate stunning features of buildings along with the detail in architectural photography through artistic viewpoints. I have tried to use artistic tools as much as possible to improve the aesthetic of my work. But to be created, this artwork requires a beautiful historical building. It’s not an easy process, and there have been times when even with a permit to take photos, I didn’t receive the appropriate reception from the people in charge, therefore, I left the location without taking any photographs. It has to feel right to me.

Most of my pictures are accomplished with wide-angle and fish-eye lenses, showing the entire building in a single frame, and also have a highly dramatic range of color and texture. For me, light is a critical element in photography. In other photos, I join several images together to create a virtual reality for the architecture.

My favorite photo in my portfolio, “Historic Persian-Islamic Monuments and Temples,” is a landscape shot of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran (the image is at the top of page 18). Known informally as “the Pink Mosque,” and built around 1888, it’s a beautiful building. I hope that the photo illustrates the architects’ (Muhammad Hasan-e-Memar and Muhammad Reza Kashi Paz-e-Shiraz) choice of perfect symmetry, tiling, colors, unique lighting, different patterns, repetition, arches, and rosy stained glass.

I hope that my photography touches and inspires people to look at the world differently. I want to visit the world’s best architectural structures and, through my photography, present my own opinions and interpretations of them. Changing perspectives means everything to me.