While I was in Iran, it didn’t really work out that well to photograph the underground music scene. Although I met one of the most incredible and engaged singers of Iran Mahsa Vahdat, saw some band rehearsals, went to a private music school where young children play the western style guitar and have forbidden ballet lessons, … the story somehow shifted.
I got naturally guided to working on women’s rights and the daily life of women, which would from that moment on become a big part of my work.
I ended up being able to interview and photograph Nobel Peace Prize winner and women’s rights activist Shirin Ebadi. The lawyer Ebadi was Iran’s first female judge, but after Khomeini’s revolution in 1979 she as other women in high functions were dismissed. In the year 2000 she was even imprisoned for having criticized her country’s hierocracy.
Shirin Ebadi took up the struggle for fundamental human rights and especially the rights of women and children and founded among other things the One million signature campaign. The aim of the campaign is to collect one million signatures in support of a petition addressed to the Iranian Parliament asking for the revision and reform of current laws which discriminate against women. One of the main goals of the Campaign is to educate citizens and particularly women about the negative impact of these discriminatory laws on the lives of women and society as a whole.
It was the moment that I actually became a photojournalist and not just a photographer. I was so nervous for the interview as I was not familiar with interview techniques and Mrs. Ebadi insisted on me having a translator with me so she could answer my questions in Farsi. Besides that, doing your first interview with a Nobel Peace Prize winner is quite intimidating as well… But it was a very interesting talk and I learned afterwords that when you have an actual conversation with people instead of interviewing or questioning them, nerves disappear automatically.