Kooch: A Perfect Photography Spot

Iran Nomad ToursOtherKooch: A Perfect Photography Spot

Seeking for untouched yet eye-catching photography spot is one of the concerns of photographers. Photographers are searching for locations at which they can bring creativity. Iran has so many ideal destinations for photographers which offer a unique subject, history, culture, characters, to sum it up great for photography destinations. Nomads of Iran are an indigenous community. A number of them are still practising transhumance by foot in an untouched area. In this article, we will discuss how come nomad’s migration is an intriguing opportunity for photographers; and at the end, we will bring some photographers ideas who have experienced this journey.

Everyone Can Become a Photographer

Fortunately, to become a photographer or videomaker you do not need expensive equipment anymore. You can start with cheap gears and even cell phones; after making money out of it, you can buy the more expensive ones. Within the development of technology, cellphones are also offering great photography options. They can do today what a $ 3000 camera does. The photography gears have become smaller, lighter, and faster. Drones are also giving us a great perspective of the environment around.

Nomads’ Transhumance:
A Unique Photography Destination

For sure, there are so many great options for you to choose from as your next photography spot. If you have aimed to travel for shooting photos, most of you are not a fan of places which are being already shot millions of times. Not to mention that even in touristic destinations, people can bring creativity to capture moments and events. For photographers, finding unique destinations different from popular spots is something valuable. So they search for out-of-the-way places which are not crowded with photographers and tourists.

In Iran, about 1,500,000 of nomads still migrate on foot. Migration is called “Kuch” among nomads. They have preserved their traditional way of living in the middle of untouched mountains of Iran. There are so many customs, traditions, and lifestyle among nomads that are about fading away. Photographers going to the nomads’ tents is a great chance both for photographers and nomads. Photographers can document theses precious lifestyle and landscape before anything vanishes. Nomads also get aware of the speciality of what they are doing and where they are living.

The Specialty of Nomad’s Migration among Photographers

Photographing is not taking captures anymore. Taking a great shot is not where the task of the photographer finishes. These days, photography goes beyond all of this. It is about deepening into a culture, nature, landscape, character, or a subject. It is about narrating a story behind the photo. There are so many characters, traditions, rituals, landscapes, and stories unsaid among nomads. Women making bread, children playing, young girls helping domestic chores, boys shepherding, the love tales in tribes, the authentic landscape, and so many other subjects are intriguing for photographers.

If you have gotten a room left on your bucket list, Nomad’s migration in Iran is quite an adventure and a unique photography location. Kuch is actually for the ones who want to get really “out there”. In Kuch, all the culture, nature, history, and colour come together on a grand scale.

What Photographers Must Know Before Kooch

* During the days that we are with Nomads, we live in their way. Respecting their customs, culture, traditions, practices, and trying to conform to their local conditions are of great importance. *‘Flexibility’ is a keyword when we are living with Nomads. * They need to know how we appreciate their lifestyle. * Nomads would open up to us much more if we get involved in their daily routines. * We do our best to have the least effect on them. * It is highly recommended not to take pictures of the nomads, especially nomad women. Like anybody else, they find it intrusive when the visitors snap a picture of them or their children without saying or doing anything. If you want to take a picture, wait for them to warm up to you, and then ask for their permission. * We highly appreciate your professional & moral integrity. If you have joined the nomads’ transhumance, it’s because to make this less known community & their heritage known to the world and share the experiences you have learned from these people and their lifestyle with others. So, please note that your focus MUST be on the nomadic people & their stories. * Please DO NOT FILM the nomads all the time. We don’t want to make them feel like a human zoo, so filming must be kept at a reasonable amount. Before filming them, you should explain your reasons to them. For example, you want to film this because you have never seen how nomads make flatbread from scratch and you want to be able to share it with your family and friends. * Please DO NOT Use their pictures without their permission. Even though some of their values might seem excessive to you, for example, the way they don’t like to have photos taken of their daughters, it’s not up to you to change that in one night. These indigenous cultures are very old and intricate, and we should have the humility to know that we don’t always know the best answer to everything. If their culture is supposed to change, it has to happen gradually and by their own people’s choosing.

What Photographers Think about Kooch

There are some photographers who have accompanied nomad’s transhumance as well.
Rachele is a passionate Italian documentary photographer seeking for something beyond the usual. This is how she puts her experience:

One of the reasons I love being a photographer is that connection that you build with people. People that you are photographing and people that look at those photographs. 
Kooch was for me a unique experience in this sense because over the course of a week I really got an insight into nomads culture and traditions and had the privilege to capture it. Even tough I wasn’t able to speak the same language of my host family I felt welcomed from the very beginning and being able to share with them such an important moment as their seasonal migration made me feel part of the family. 
The best things of Kooch is that you really feel far away from everyday life and all the caos of the cities. You are fully immerse in nature, in the beautiful peaks of the Zagros mountains, which are a perfect place for stunning pictures and, at night, the view is even better because you can see millions of stars and even the milky way.
Those days in the Zagros Moutnains have been for me the highlight of my trip to Iran, as well as beautiful pictures, I brought home a new perspective on ltiving life, new friends and unforgettable memories.

Rachele Caretti

Julien and Margaux -Serial Hikers- are a French couple. They a little adventurous and very passionate about alternative travel! This is also how they express their experience:

For me it was an incredible way to get to approach such unreachable human beings (by their way of life, the language barrier and their location!). I felt lucky to be able to photograph their lives with their agreement because it is their intimacy.

Julien & Margaux – SerialHikers

You can also read the Serial Hikers article on “Unusual: meet the Bakhtiaris, last nomads from Iran“.

Ivan Dogic is a Croatian photographer and tour guide who is recently living in Iran. This is how he describes his experience as a photographer with Bakhtiari Nomads:

I am almost sorry that I came to join the Bakhtiari migration as a photographer because it was all so beautiful and interesting that I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment because of “having” to take photos. Joking aside, photographing during kooch was personally interesting because it combined both lifestyle and nature. Social and anthropological component of nomads living like they used to live thousands of year ago is integrated in beautiful landscapes so capturing both at the same time was very challenging and a lot of fun.

Have you ever visited nomads? Have you been ever in Iran? We would be happy to hear your ideas and questions in the comments below.

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