Shadi Ghadirian was born in 1974 in Tehran, Iran. She is a photographer who continues to live and work in Iran. Ghadirian studied photography at Azad University (in Tehran). After finishing her BA, Ghadirian began her professional career as a photographer. She says that "quite by accident", the subjects of her first two series were "women".
After finishing college, Ghadirian was inspired to make work reflecting what she saw as the duality and contradiction of life. Her Qajar Series (1998-2001) consists of small studio portraits of women dressed in the nineteenth-century Qajar style. Many of the women photographed are Ghadirian's friends and family. The backgrounds of these portraits resemble those found in photographic studios of that period. However, the artist has added some modern anomalies or dissonances, such as a mountain bike, a newspaper, or a Pepsi-Cola can. Ghadirian plays with these juxtapositions and contrasts, thus expressing the difficulties women face in Iran today - torn between tradition and the modernity of globalization. These composed portraits depict women unsure to which era they belong.
Ghadirian made her Like Every Day Series after her marriage to fellow photographer, Peyman Hooshmand-zadeh. In this body of work, Ghadirian comments upon the daily repetitive routine to which many women find themselves consigned and by which many women are defined. Each of these color photographs depicts a figure draped in patterned fabric in place of the typical Iranian chador. However, instead of a face, each figure has a common household item such as an iron, a tea cup, a broom, a pot or a pan.
Her work is intimately linked to her identity as a Muslim woman living in Iran. Nonetheless, her art also deals with issues relevant to women living in other parts of the world. She questions the role of women in society and explores ideas of censorship, religion, modernity, and the status of women. Ghadirian's profile in the western art world is increasing rapidly. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across Europe, and the U.S.A. She has also been featured in print and electronic media (including the New York Times, Photography Now, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC and others). Her work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the British Museum among others.