08 November 2006
Ebrahim Haghighi
Ebrahim Haghighi

Photography, Cinema and Graphic Design are the same-aged children of Image Family in the 20th century. Though independent from each other, they interact at the same time. With an approximate age of more than a hundred years, they have grown along the technology of their century and, during their short lives, have undergone changes in their forms and conditions for many times and are going to transform in a bizarre way in the information and digital world.

Having come from the dark room of Daguerre, the trembling screen of Lumi re and the artistic canvas of Lautrec, they sit on the waves of microprocessors and travel from west to east in a split second, yet by the name of Photographs! Or they appear on monitors, in newspapers, magazines, brochures, huge billboards, etc. by the name of Graphic Design. Or they present the creative playful mind of the intelligent man of today, in a compact disk with a storage capacity of eight hours or a giant library in any home, in a corner of this global village.

These three youngsters have found so many common grounds. What lies behind their constant resemblance is their ability to multiply, which means addressing the largest possible number of audiences. (Although, having more audiences is not necessarily a sign of more success - in the field of arts.)

These three young children, who have stepped into the 21st century, sometimes wear each other's clothes, and you wonder who is who. Photographs appear with a graphic look, graphic designs appear in the form of cinema, and cinema is made up of - merely moving - photographs. Though the mother of the three is Painting, Cinema still bears his uncles - Theater, Novels and Music - in mind. And Graphic Design, the little sister, is going to look like Cinema, tell stories in the multimedia, become more movable and always be accompanied by Music. And you cannot decide if what you see on the monitor of your computer is cinema, moving graphics or successive photography.

For these reasons, I personally consider the three inseparable, and believe that it is not enough to merely concentrate on the matter of photography in graphic design, or graphic design in photography. Cinema, along with the family of Novels, Theater and Music should also be present at the discussion. And they are - if you like it or not.

Photography and graphic design in Iran started with a short interval from Europe. Their cooperation and coordination formed at the beginning of commercial advertising in the press and inevitably appeared along with the printing techniques of its time.

Based on the strong and perpetual belief of man in photographs, the use of photography grew in the production of advertising graphic design. (I have doubt if the man of today believes as much in photography as he did before.) The graphic designer gradually got used to benefit from photography in his works. He found that, in order to develop an idea for advertising a product, he could not limit his work to painting. Photography would rather be a part of the design, too. Along advertising painters (whose names later changed into 'graphic designers'), advertising photographers started to work, and signs of their partnership became gradually obvious in cultural products.

Today, advertising photographers are graphic designers themselves who, by using a mere pencil sketch, make excellent photographs of high quality. And graphic designers have become expert photographers who, with the help of a few lamps and (digital?) cameras at the side of their drawing desks, arrange their works by themselves. And I wonder whose room will be more taken up by computers.

But it seems that they will all become artists-craftsmen, as their ancestors have been, who have to know both arts and crafts. And at the end, nobody will be able to recognize the main producer of the final product.

About this article

The above article by Ebrahim Haghighi originally appeared in the October, 2000 issue of Jahat-e Etelae (Iranian Graphic Designers Society Newsletter) and appears with permission.

About Ebrahim Haghighi
Born in 1949, Ebrahim Haghighi began his professional activities in different fields of graphic arts at 1970. As a renowned Iranian designer, his works have been presented in several individual and group exhibitions and have won numerous awards. He has also directed many 8 & 35 mm films. Since 1979, he has been teaching graphic design at: Tehran University, Farabi University, University of art, College of Television and Cinema, Azad University of Iran. Haghighi is a member of the board of IGDS (Iranian Graphic Designers Society).