In 1976, actress Elizabeth Taylor and then-aspiring photographer Firooz Zahedi journeyed across the world to Tehran. They dined with royalty, toured ancient sites, shopped in the Grand Bazaar, and perhaps most importantly, took a series of photographs that offer beautiful glimpses of Iran before the revolution and provide an intimate portrait of a 20th-century film icon. Though never intended for public view, Andy Warhol published the photos in Interview magazine shortly after Zahedi and Taylor returned from Iran, and in 2012 they were exhibited at LACMA. Zahedi and Taylor remained close friends and he continued to photograph her throughout the rest of her life. In this episode of Expert Voices, Firooz Zahedi shares the stories behind the captivating images of Elizabeth Taylor in Iran and describes how this remarkable experience influenced his now decades-long career as a celebrated photographer. Sotheby’s will offer one of these magnificent photographs, Elizabeth Taylor Dressed as an Odalisque II, in our 20th Century Art
- Firooz Zahedi (born 1949) is an American photographer of Iranian descent.
Firooz Zahedi was born in Tehran, Iran in 1949. His family moved to England where he received his secondary education. In 1969 he came to the US to attend George Washington University in Washington DC. He graduated with a degree in Foreign Service in 1973.
After graduation, Zahedi served briefly as a diplomat for the former government of Iran but resigned to go to the Corcoran School of Art from which he received a degree in visual communication in 1976.
While at art school he began photographing for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and served as its Washington DC correspondent.
In May 1976 he met and became friends with Elizabeth Taylor and soon after they traveled together to Iran. The photographs from that trip, which included the actress dressed in local tribal costumes, alongside portraits he took of her on the set of A little Night Music in Vienna became the subject of the cover story of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine in October 1976.
In 1978 he accompanied Elizabeth Taylor to Hollywood as her personal photographer on the set of the film Return Engagement.
He settled in Los Angeles to pursue his photographic career. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles, and started his professional career as a photographer.
In 1988 he was assigned by Vanity Fair to shoot for the magazine. Soon after he was placed under contract by that publication. His editorial work has appeared internationally on the covers of such magazines as Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, Town & Country, Glamour, InStyle, Time, Architectural Digest and Entertainment Weekly.
Some of the celebrities he has photographed include Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Bette Midler, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.
Zahedi shot covers for a number of Barbra Streisand's albums, including Release Me, Love is the Answer, Back to Broadway, and Timeless: Live in Concert.
Firooz has appeared as a guest photographer on CW's America's Next Top Model.
In February 2011 a collection of his photographs of Elizabeth Taylor in Iran was exhibited at the Los Angeles County museum of Art.[citation needed
His portraits and fine art photography have been shown in New York at the Staley Wise gallery and Leila Heller Gallery. Internationally at the Laleh June Gallery in Basel, Switzerland, and the Doha and Dubai Art Fairs.[citation needed
A solo show of his work, Firooz Zahedi: Photographs and collages was held April 26 to June 7, 2014, at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.
Zahedi's son, Darian, is also a photographer as well as a musician. He has played with bands including The Rondelles and CRX. In 2012, Zahedi married Beth Rudin DeWoody, daughter of New York City real estate developer Lewis Rudin.