Randy H. Goodman
On Nov. 4, 1979, hundreds of Iranian students forcibly occupied the American Embassy in Tehran to protest the granting of asylum to the former Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. The occupation, along with the holding of US Embassy personnel and others hostage, lasted 444 days and forever altered the relations between these two former allies.
Three months into the takeover, believing there was a need to explain the reasons for their actions directly to the American people, the Iranian students invited a grassroots delegation of fifty Americans, representing a cross-section of community, religious and minority groups, to Iran. When asked to document the delegation’s ten-day trip, Goodman jumped at the opportunity to assume the role of photojournalist - a career altering decision.
In 1981, she, along with veteran reporter William Worthy Jr. and radio reporter Terri Taylor, were granted visas and became the only US journalists credentialed to work in Iran. For two months under contract with CBS-TV News, they covered breaking news and documenting the effects of the Iran-Iraq war on the people and cities. Goodman was the team’s videographer and a photographer for Gamma-Liaison Photo News Agency (today, Getty Images.)
After their return to the US, the FBI illegally searched the journalist’s unaccompanied baggage at Logan Airport and confiscated 11 books purchased in the airport and Tehran University. The books contained reprints of documents, some classified, seized during the occupation of the US Embassy and sold widely in Iran and Europe. The federal agency threatened to indict the three citing their possible violation of the Theft of Government Property Act. With ACLU representation, the journalists filed suit against the agency claiming the seizure violated the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. The journalists were never charged, their 11 books were returned and they were awarded $16,000 for damages. Beginning on Sunday, January 3, 1982, The Washington Post published investigative reporter Scott Armstrong’s five-part series on the content of the books.
During her third Iran assignment in 1983, Goodman worked for TIME and was given exclusive access to photograph Ayatollah Khomeini while wearing a borrowed head-to-toe chador. But perhaps even more significantly, Goodman captured the spirit of a people - - soldiers, wives, fathers, children and families - - whose lives were forever changed by revolution, war and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In 2009, she produced her first exhibit of her Iran work titled IRAN: Images From Beneath a Chador: The Hostage Crisis and the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1983 to coincide with the Islamic Republic’s 30th anniversary. Her traveling exhibit was widely shown in the US (see Past Exhibitions) and in Europe at the Institute du Monde Arabe (Paris), Kowasa Gallery (Barcelona), the World Congress for Middle East Studies (Barcelona) and Lund University in Sweden.
After a thirty-two year absence, Randy returned to Iran to photograph the societal changes during another pivotal time in that country’s history - - the signing of the Iran nuclear agreement (2015). Upon her return she produced IRAN: Women Only, an exhibit focused on the daily lives of women today with a look back nearly four decades ago.
Randy’s Iran photographs have been widely published in newspapers and magazines throughout the world including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The L.A. Times, The Washington Post, TIME and in Egypt, France, Hong Kong, Great Britain, Libya, Italy and Spain.
Besides Iran, Goodman captured images in Cuba (1990), Grenada (1987) and Nicaragua (1981) and was a freelance photographer for United Press International (Boston.) Besides international assignments, she also freelances for non-profit organizations and her commercial clients. Currently she is writing a memoir of her Iran experiences.
She is a member of the Boston Press Photographer’s Association and the National Press Photographer’s Association. She holds both a B.S. and M.A. in sociology from Boston University.