Khudaybergen Divanov, the first Uzbek photographer and films cameraman, was born in 1879 in Khiva in the family of the palace secretary of Nurmukhammad Divan, who was close to the enlightened Khiva Khan Seyid Mukhammad Rakhim II.
It so happened that the curious young Khudaybergen once became a participant in the photo-shoot conducted in the streets of Khiva by someone Wilhelm Penner, the head of the German settlement of Mennonite immigrants. The local population dubbed the nickname "Ponar-buva" (Grandpa-lantern) to this enthusiast of the art of photography. W. Penner attracted the young Khivinas with the process of photographing, the developing of glass negatives and the printing of shots. The boy quickly mastered the craft and learned to make photographic shots by the German apparatus of the "ZOT" brand, presented to him by the teacher.
This was the birth of the first national photographer in Central Asia, who later became the ancestor of Uzbek photo art and the first national films cameraman.
The first photographs made by Khudaybergen Divanov were ethnographic shots imbued with genuine love for the people and the history of Khorezm (rope walkers near city walls, hunters with hunting birds, characteristic Khiva arbas, and irrigators for cleaning irrigation ditches). His pictures are distinguished by the desire to combine the ethnographic approach with the artistic one. This is seen even in his photographs of historical and architectural monuments. As we considering the quality of performance, Divanov's early works are not inferior to those of other contemporary photographers. There are inscriptions and dates in Arabic font on a number of photographs printed by him, where he made them directly on the negatives, which shows that the young master began his creative photographic work in the 90s of the XIX century.
In 1907, Kh. Divanov was included in the delegation of the Khiva Khan, led by the First Vizier Islam Khodja, which went to St. Petersburg. Having the permission of the head of the delegation, he studied the subtleties of the beloved photography from the recognized St. Petersburg professionals for two months to get a better acquaintance with the way the photographic work was put in the Russian capital.
Returning home, Divanov brought home a gramophone, various photo and film accessories, including the "Pathé cinematograph" No. 593, which allowed him to open the first in Central Asia film photo lab and to shoot the first Uzbek documentary in 1910.
Having mastered a new skill for himself - camerawork, he began to shoot folk festivals, famous people and leaving nature. The story filmed by Kh. Divanov "Shurkul", "Wheel", "The Dagish disaster", "Ceramist", "Khiva bazaar", "Karakum Desert", "The first tractor", “Architectural Monuments of Our Land”, “The Sites of Turkestan” and many others became the first samples of Uzbek documentary.
During the existence of the Khorezm People’s Republic, Kh. Divanov was appointed as Minister of Finance, but he continued actively practice his favorite photography. His laboratory was located in the former Khan's palace Tash-Khauli. Having become a recognized master, Kh. Divanov continued to search for his own creative handwriting in photo art, understanding the importance of this work for the future. As an accredited correspondent for the Central Studio of Documentary Film, he repeatedly traveled to Moscow, took off the footage, some of which was included in the relevant issues of the "Soyuzkinozhurnal". The services of Kh. Divanov were used by the editorial offices of numerous newspapers and magazines published at that time not only in Uzbekistan.
In the last years of his life, he opened a photo and cinema club at the Pedagogical College, where he taught young people the art of photography.
In his youth, Kh. Divanov was a member of Mladokhivintsy’s party and this cost him his life. Аlready being a pensioner, on November 30, 1937, Kh. Divanov was repressed by the Soviet authorities as a minion of Akmal Ikramov and Fayzulla Khodjaev and executed on October 5, 1938. Later on his name and case was rehabilitated on June 25, 1959.
The creative heritage of an outstanding photographer and film cameraman is scattered all over the world. His photographs and films are present not only in Tashkent and Khiva, but also in the film and photo archives of Moscow, Paris, Berlin, and London.