I’m a big fan of collaborative projects, both as a participant and as a mere observer. Iranian photographer Alireza Rostami has just finished a pretty epic one and he’s kindly shared the results with DIYP. His little film camera traveled 16,284 km (10,118 miles) between 27 photographers. The journey started in Tehran where it also ended when the last negative was shot. During its 11-month duration, the project has told a story of solidarity, trust, and collaboration between people, and it’s a story that brings back faith in humanity.
Alireza named his project Send the Camera, and it all started as an Instagram post in November last year. He chose one of his point-and-shoot film cameras (Olympus) and found volunteers for the project. He asked them if they prefer color or black and white film, and they agreed on Ilford black & white negative film. So, Alireza bought the film, loaded the camera, and sent it to the first photographer.
The rules were simple:
- Each photographer can only take one shot.
- Each person has to choose the next person in another city.
- Each photographer has to write down the exact information and details about the picture.
- The last person is always responsible for the next person.
- Each person has to pay the postage price.
Alireza started the chain, and it went on until all the negatives are shot. The photographers came from different places, and each of them sent the camera to the next one as they took one shot. The last person in this chain sent the camera back to Alireza, so he could develop the negatives and share the photos. Here’s the map of the camera’s 11-month travels and the video depicting it:
This project sure was time-consuming, but it was worth the wait. Alireza describes it as unpredictable and exciting, which is why he found it so interesting. This project isn’t that much about the quality of the images, as it is about collaboration. It shows how much trust and accountability there has to be between people in order to form a group art project. I personally love the idea, but what I particularly like about it is that it was all done during the pandemic. The whole world has been changed and slowed down, and we need proof of mutual trust and solidarity more than ever. And it’s exactly what this project is all about.
All photographers have agreed to share their stories and photos they took. The little Olympus camera has traveled across Iran to help them tell their stories, and it brought them all together in one epic collaborative project. Take a look at the photos and photographers’ comments below, and check out more of Alireza’s work on his Instagram. There’s also a dedicated website and an Instagram page for the project, where you can see more photos and information.