Mohammadreza Momeni is a great humanist behind his camera. His compassion and respect for the proud people he photographs is endless. His real life images always have a huge impact and touch the hearts of all viewers. Let's find out more about the man behind his impressive body of social photography work.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born in 1967 in Shahrood, Iran. Graduated from Isfahan University of Technology in the field of metallurgy. I started mountain climbing seriously in 1990. The trips resulted in getting acquainted with different people and numerous untouched cultures. People who were not infected with daily technology and a pure life could be seen in them. In 2007 my dear friend, Hadi Foghani, and I decided to publish a book of Isfahan mountains and finally we managed to publish it in 2009. At the time of preparing the book, I found out about my weakness in photography. Concurrent with the publication of the book, my daughter, Dena, was born. Since then, I decided to learn photography. With intense studying and practice I managed to win different photography medals in numerous festivals from various countries in less than a year.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
I think without my trips and past experiences I couldn't photograph this way. In fact I owe my photography to my past.
Which are your most important experiences that has influenced your art?
Liking people and respecting their believes.
What first attracted you to photography?
Time stops with no sound.
Describe your overall photographic vision.
Visual expression of subjects from a personal approach which changes with passage of time and will be followed by different occasions to create new photographs.
Why are you so drawn by Documentary Photography?
I think social documentary photography is linked to my past. Before thinking about social documentary, I had done it already and it refers to my mind and personal life experiences. I also like the other photography genres but whenever I start photographing it results in social documentaries. When I review the photos I took 8 years ago they seem fresh and I see new aspects in them these days what I never noticed then. Perhaps this everyday renewal of the photos or their independence on time has made me fond of social documentary.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
The story is more important to me but if I can use techniques to express better, I will not hesitate.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
Without connection and approaching I can't photograph; that's why I've had inconclusive trips regarding photography several times. But I've gained good experiences that helped me in the next trips.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
I perform preliminary analysis. Even, sometimes I have plans and schemes in my mind. But my most and best photos are related to the time when I decide to photograph at the moment and an inner energy has changed my way to take the photos. I'm sometimes surprised myself by this.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I use Canon 5D Mark III with the two lenses that have been with me since I started photography: Canon 24-70 f2.8 and Canon 70-200 F2.8 ;of course when there are space limits I also use Canon 18-35 F2.8
What software do you use to process your images?
All of my processes are single-layered and 99 percent are done in Lightroom; and a small part is done in Photoshop
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Documentary Photography and how do you get started?
Photograph and do not involve yourselves in photography tools, techniques and genres. The lighter you are the quicker you move. A lot of tools are often cumbersome.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Before considering the photos of great photographers and looking for them, I had already photographed. That led to the maintenance of my personal vision in my photos. When I saw the photos of the influential photographers, I realized how hard they had tried and I'm amazed of their creativity with the primary photography tools they had. Photographers including: Bresson, Salgado...to Lynsey Addario, Reza Deghati, Stephanie Sinclair and Steve Mc curry.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
I have always been involved in social documentary photos and depending on my mood they have different levels of influence. Undoubtedly, by seeing more photos of great photographers, they will unconsciously have influence on me.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
One of my concerns is the rapid shift of nomads' and villagers' life without sufficient time to adapt to the existing conditions.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I think with the quick change of the means of photography and easier production of photos, social documentary photography is also changing and evolving that is due to the nature of art. Today, we must admit that photography has caused the other visual arts to take their inductions from it.
1X is so important for me.