The Many Faces of Iran

The Many Faces of Iran

photographic series was shot on 35mm film during Iranian
New Year (Nowruz). Photographing on film in Iran meant slowing down
and being more conscious of the images I took – a welcome departure
from the photo journalism work I had been doing prior to the

Iran defies stereotypes and exceeded my expectations. My
intention was to focus on taking portraits that captured the
diversity of Iranian women. I met empowered women from all walks of
life, united in their defiance and pride. Previously, I had only
been exposed to a one-dimensional narrative of Iranian women as
oppressed, as “seen and not heard”.

In the process of getting to know women, I was surprised to
learn that they make up the majority undergraduates, and 70% of
science and engineering students are female. Jobs in positions of
power and entrepreneurship are not out of reach either. I met Elly,
a women’s rights activist, and best friends Hoda and Zohreh, two
female university professors who took me on a road-trip – and
absolutely loved One Direction. Sahel (meaning “beach”) was an
artist from Tehran, named after a memorable trip her mother made
during her pregnancy. All of these women were travelling across
Iran to various New Year celebrations.

Before visiting, I was warned it would be hard to take
portraits; women would be apprehensive, their husbands perhaps even
more so. But when I was there, I found the opposite to be true. The
Iranians I encountered were delighted to welcome a foreigner, and
more hospitable than I could ever have imagined. Most were acutely
conscious of their government’s international reputation, and
sadly, some asked me: “tell your country we are not terrorists
here”. Travelling to Iran reminded me that we too easily paint a
population with one brush, and while it’s important to be aware of
local issues, they are not what defines a country.

@aliceaedy |

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