Street Photography Iran – Photos From The Not So Mean Streets of Iran
Street photography Iran. There’s three words I had no idea I would be writing any time, ever. As many Yomadic readers already know, I have just returned from spending a month in the mind-blowingly incredible country of Iran. Indeed, it has gone to the top of my “best holiday destinations list”. I’ve now seen 37 countries, most of them multiple times, and Iran really is a unique, spectacular, life changing, moving, and memorable place to visit. But, what you might want to know is – what are the people like? And, just how difficult and repressive is street photography in Iran?
In the western world, we have all been force-fed a steady diet of paranoia when it comes to countries like Iran. Terrorists. Muslims. Not to be trusted. Suspicious of anything and everything from the west. Quite simply, almost everything you have ever read about Iran, is inaccurate at best, and propagandish lies at worst. When you interpret these photos, please try your best to keep your mind open. Like you, I had a lot of pre-conceptions about Iran, and I’m happy to say that during the course of a month – they were all shattered.
When it comes to street photography, I really found Iran difficult. But, not necessarily for the reasons you would think. Firstly, there just aren’t many tourists around. Phillipa and I stuck out like the proverbial sore thumbs. Therefore, the opportunities for candid street photography were very limited. People spotted us a mile away, and more often than not, made a bee-line directly for us, simply wanting a chat.
From day one, I went out street shooting. However, I felt much more timid than normal. I really didn’t know how far I could push my street photography in Iran. I had no idea how people would react to a strange Westerner putting a camera into their face. I wasn’t sure what buildings I could take photos of. If there was a subway entrance, or a police station, or an army truck in the background of my images, what would happen to me if my camera was examined?
It took me weeks before I felt reasonably comfortable with street photography in Iran. Normally, I just pick my target, and pull the trigger. But Iran really felt like a different world to me, in a good way. People who approached me were incredibly friendly. And that, is the understatement of the year – I’m still getting emails from people I met on the street. With some, I have made what I am sure will be a long-term friendship.
When Iranian people did catch me taking street photos of them, what started as a quick encounter often extended to a dinner invitation, an offer of a free tour or even a bed for the night. The people of Iran, in my experience, are the most warm and welcoming I have ever met. Ever.
Having the opportunity to document people on the streets of Iran, is what I consider part of my street photography apprenticeship. It’s a long haul. I plan on continually documenting the people of the world in my travels, and I’m starting to think that if I can do it in a nation so “foreign” as Iran, I can do it anywhere.
Street photography is my favourite form of travel photography. Purists of either genre may scoff, or intellectualise about what is and what isn’t street photography or travel photography, but simply, I don’t care. I understand that many of these photos are street portraiture, some are clearly not candid (although none of them are posed), and well, there is far too many photos here for any “serious” street photographer.
It’s not a question of lazy editing. The reason for so many photo’s is simple: I’m a traveller. I take photos in my travels. I present them here, so that you can see what the streets are like, in places you may not get to visit yourself.
I’ve found that people are basically the same everywhere. They may dress different, they have different skin colours. Some people don’t mind that I’m taking their photo, and some people do.
But, indisputably, we all have at least two things in common.
We’re all human, and we’re all in this thing together.
PS, my Iran journey is far from over.