Challenging Iran

Photographing top-flight football in Iran

I can be very difficult, almost impossible, for women to gain access to sporting events in Iran.  While the law does not prevent this, it is commonplace for access to be denied.  A huge problem if you are a female up-coming sports photographer.

Parisa Pourtaherian 01To overcome this limiteation, Parisa Pourtaherian had to be creative.  She arrived three hours before the match in Qaemshahr, in order to find an appropriate building overlooking the Vatani Stadium  from which she could take photographs.

It was not until the second half of the match that she succeeded in persuading the owners of a house to allow her onto their roof.  From there she captured some impressive images, aided by one of Canon’s larger white lenses.

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Parisa Pourtaherian (2018) Untitled, Qaemshahr

Her actions make her the first female photographer to cover a National League football match in Iraq.  Photographs of her in action, taken by male photographers from within the stadium, spread across social media and public response has been very positive.

Abolfazl Amanollah

Abolfazl Amanollah (2018) Parisa Pourtaherian

In a recent interview, Pourtaherian spoke openly with the BBC’s Victoria Bisset:

I felt very excited to be taking photographs of such a high-level football match in Iran, especially in that particular situation.

The on-site photographers were busy capturing interesting shots of the game but when they saw me on the roof they took my photo.  I think all of them did!  I found the pictures of me on various social networks and some others were sent to me by my friends.  People in Iran reacted very positively and all I have received is positive energy.

I have to confess that all of this reaction and positive feedback was a bit weird for me at first.  I was not thinking about what the reaction would be in the first place, I was just focused on taking photographs.

I love football and it’s how I started in sports photography. I went to Turkey to cover the friendly match there with Iran just before the World Cup in Russia.  I will do my best to make this dream come true, but my biggest dream is to see women have the same opportunities as men when they come to football stadiums in Iran.

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