"Experts believe the main cause of these dust storms to be the cessation of mulching, the growth of desertification, and destruction of the wetlands of Mesopotamia. In some days of the year, dust in some cities of Khuzestan is reported to be 767 micrograms per cubic meter rather than the standard of 150 to 250 micrograms per cubic meter."
Danial Khodaie was shortlisted in the Contemporary Issues category of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards with his series 'Dust Invasion'. Here he tells us a little more about capturing this phenomenon.
How did you go about taking these images?
In these photos, I have tried to show the impact of climate change on everyday life and how people react in the event of this problem. To take these photos, I visited the crowded places of the city such as the bazaars and captured everyday life of people. Similarly, I captured other aspects of this problem, including a person who sold masks and selling masks as a way of earning his life in that situation; someone sleeping at the bus stop waiting for the bus, indicating the habituation of this issue for the residents; or a wage worker looking for work despite the dust storms; and finally, deserted entertainment venues. I also went onto the top of one of the tall buildings, showed the extent of the storm, and captured an overall view of the environmental disaster.
Do you have a photographic philosophy?
When I started studying the dust storms and environmental pollution and their impact on people's lives, this issue loomed as one of the biggest concerns of my life. Accordingly, I conducted several studies on this subject. In the end, I realized that the main reason behind dust storms was human avarice leading to loss of vegetation due to the wars in the neighboring countries and the Iran-Iraq war, drying wetlands caused by oil extraction in Iran and drying rivers caused by construction of non-standard dams in the neighboring countries. I decided to use my camera as a means to record this historical tragedy, to be a wake-up call today, and also leave my photographs as historical documents for the posterity so that they would know what their fathers did to the nature and the planet Earth.
What’s next for you?
In continuation of this long-term project which addresses climate change and air pollution, one can attribute the pollution to dust storms as one among several factors; I'm trying to travel to cities and countries and take photos suggesting the reasons behind and origins of these storms and air pollution and have them published in a book at the end of this long-term project.