Kaveh Golestan was born in Abadan on July 8, 1950. His family moved to Tehran when he was one year old. Kaveh attended primary school in Tehran, and at his thirteen left Iran for a boarding school in England. In 1969, he returned to Iran after completing his studies.
From 1970 to 72 he worked as photographer and animator for the advertising companies. His professional career as a photojournalist began in 1972 with the first freelance assignment he received from Keyhan, a daily newspaper, which was a photo essay about paramilitary conflict in Northern Ireland. During the following years he worked for an international publishing company, Franklin Publications, which produced school textbooks for Iranian children. In all over Iran, Golestan toke photos of children reading books published by Franklin Publications.
After receiving a fund from Iran's Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in 1974, Golestan published an educational book for children, titled "Ghalamkar", about the ancient Iranian craft of woodblock printing onto fabric. Later he continued his cooperation with IIDCYA and worked on another book for children, "Golaab", which featured the traditional art of extracting rosewater.
Over the following years Golestan exhibited a number of times in various galleries, such as Seyhoun Gallery, in Tehran.
from the "prostitutes" photo essay by Kaveh Golestan
As Golestan continued his work as a photojournalist, in 1977 while working for Ayandegan newspaper he shot three important photo essays from different angles of Iranian society, entitled "Laborers", "Prostitutes" and "Mental Asylum".
Golestan's wide range works and on the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the formation of Islamic Republic in 1979 were featured in publication like Time and Tehran-e-Mosavar. In 1979 he received the Robert Capa Gold Medal award.
In 1980, Golestan independently published a photobook together with another Iranian photographer, Mohhamad Sayad, entitled "Shooresh" (Rebellion).
Golestan spent much of 1980 on the frontline of the Iran-Iraq war working for various international photo agencies. He worked with a group of Iranian photographers on a series of books entitled "Enghelabe Noor" (Revolution of Light). He also published a book in collaboration with his wife, Hengameh Golestan, titled "Ghoncheha Dar Tufan" (Buds in the Storm), about the lives of children and young people during the revolution and war.
Golestan moved to London with his wife and their newborn son in 1984. He began work with the Reflex photo agency, as well as travelling to Iran to cover the war and other events.
In 1991, Golestan decided to make a documentary called "Recording the Truth", about media censorship in Iran. The twenty-seven minute film was a detailed portrait of the way in which the press functioned after the Revolution, under continuous government restrictions. The film resulted in banning Golestan from working in Iran, and consequently he was placed under house arrest for two years. It also marked the end of his photographic period, as he moved to video and documentary filmmaking.
Golestan, in 1994, began to work as a cameraman for the Associated Press Television Network, providing footage to worldwide channels such as CNN and BBC. He also began teaching photojournalism at Tehran University, and was enthusiastic in encouraging a new generation of young Iranian photographers through projects like "Char Negah" (Four Views) in 2002. The book had originally been proposed as a project by British Petroleum (BP) to commemorate the eightieth anniversary of Laurence Lockhart's first trip to Iran in 1922, who made documentary photographs of Iran. Golestan agreed to do the project on the condition that in addition to Lockhart's photography, the book would also show the work of Iranian photographers, his pupils, from the same regions Lockhart had photographed, in an attempt to provide a more truthful, indigenous view of the subject.
In 1999, he began working with the BBC's Tehran bureau as the cameraman on Jim Muir's reports.
On April 2, 2003, while on assignment in Kifri, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kaveh Golestan stepped on a land mine and was killed instantly. He is buried in Tehran.