Sally (to the left) and her friend Banafsheh in a photographer’s studio in Marshad. Sally has traveled to Mashad for the fourth time to thank the Imam Reza for helping her getting a divorce. A daughter of a member of the Guardians of the Revolution in Khoramabad, in the Western part of the country, she’s about to go to Indonesia for three years to study computer design. Mashad is a holy city because it is home to the huge Reza mausoleum, which draws 20 million pilgrims every year. The fresco behind Sally shows the Imam Reza saving a gazelle from a restless hunter. It is one of the many episodes in the Imam’s legendary life. “Reza the patient one, Reza the learned one, Reza the complete one, Reza who rejoices the hearts of the believers, Reza who frightens away the heretics, is, to me, the sweetest of all Imams, the one who speaks to me in my dreams,” Sally says.
In Mashad, the holy city that is visited by more then 20 million pilgrims a year, the photo studios that produce souvenir photos are numerous and prosperous. This is a selection of work from one of them.