b.1928 - d.2017
Shahrokh Hatami 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. He then worked briefly as the Tehran correspondent for the Black Star Agency. LIFE magazine published his coverage of the overthrow of democratically elected PM Mohammed Mossadegh and the restoration to power of the Shah in 1953. Twenty-five years later, Hatami shot dramatic images of street fighting during the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, which overthrew the Shah. His daring coverage of this popular revolution has been acquired by the Library of Congress, an honored privilege for any photographer.
Hatami counted among his friends Presidents Gamal Abdul Nasser and Anwar Sadat, Jordan's King Hussein, and Saudi King Faisal, along with various other Syrian and Lebanese political figures.
During the late 1950's through the 60's, Hatami was a freelancer in Europe and the Middle East, with many of his pictures appearing in Paris-Match and other leading magazines. He won the confidence of the notoriously inaccessible Grande Dame of couture, Coco Chanel, and as a close personal friend, produced some unique behind-the-scenes images. During the 1960's and 70's, Hatami captured many classic fashion magazine covers and celebrity portraits, including intimate shots of Elizabeth Taylor, Ursula Andress, Brigitte Bardot, Julie Christie, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Sharon Tate, and innumerable other American and European personalities.
It was during this period that Hatami branched out into motion pictures, working as a special magazine photographer on the sets of Woody Allen's What's New Pussycat?, Jean Luc Godard's Le Mepris, Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, Casino Royal, Doctor Zhivago, among many others like Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby and 1965's A Countess from Hong Kong - starring Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, and directed by Charlie Chaplin in what became his final feature film direction. It was on the set of Rosemary's Baby that Hatami became close with Mia Farrow. Hatami directed and produced a documentary called Mia and Roman, which can be viewed as an added feature on the DVD version of the now-classic horror film, Rosemary's Baby. Hatami also knew Sharon Tate intimately and affectionately prior to her becoming Mrs. Polanski. Hatami's odyssey concerning Sharon Tate's murder is well documented online.
It cannot be overstated how driven Hatami was as an artist and human being. Fueled by sheer will and perseverance, not to mention a very seductive charm, he was able to capture previously impenetrable worlds with his lens. This carried over into world events. His presence during the Israel/Egypt peace talks in 1977-1978, his shots of Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, his legendary plane trip with the Ayatollah Khomeini upon his return to Iran in February, 1979. His very colorful life that has taken him across Africa and the Middle East, to penthouses and parties in Paris, London, New York and Hollywood. These are all a testament to an artist whose photo archive covers the last half of the 20th century and reaches into the new millennium.
Besides working in the political, film, and fashion arenas, 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 several amazing images of the Fab Four in their most familiar and now iconic surroundings.