Shahrokh Hatami has covered a broad range of high profile subjects as a photographer for nearly half a century, from celebrities, film and fashion to politics, war, and social change. Hatami – known primarily by this single professional byline – started as a writer for a major newspaper in Tehran, switching to photography in 1950. Twenty-five years later, Hatami shot dramatic images of street fighting during the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, which overthrew the Shah including the legendary plane trip with the Ayatollah Kohmeini upon his return to Iran in February 1979. His daring coverage of this popular revolution has been acquired by the Library of Congress, an honored privilege for any photographer. His presence during the Israel/Egypt peace talks in 1977-1978 included famous shots of Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem BeginHatami. He counted among his friends President Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, Jordan’s King Hussein, and Saudi King Faicsal, along with various other Syrian and Lebanese political figures.
Beginning in the late 1950s, Hatami was a freelancer in Europe and the Middle East, with many of his pictures appearing in Paris-Match and other leading magazines. Eventually he won the confidence of the notoriously inaccessible Grande Dame of couture, Coco Chanel, and as a close personal friend, produced many unique behind-the-scenes images. Hatami is highly regarded for his early and extremely rare color photos of the Beatles at the legendary Cavern Club in 1963. Sent to Liverpool by Paris Match magazine to cover the Beatlemania phenomenon, he managed to gain access backstage and captured these amazing images of the Fab Four.
Fueled by sheer will and perseverance, not to mention a very seductive charm, Hatami was able to capture previously impenetrable worlds with his lens. This carried over into the world stage. Hatami’s colorful life has taken him across Africa and the Middle East, to penthouses and parties in Paris, London, New York and Hollywood. This is testament to an artist whose photo archive covers the last half of the 20th century and is now focusing in earnest on the new millennium.