In December of last year, I went back home after 6 years. The last time I was there was during the winter of 2009, where protests and demonstrations were held due to the elections a few months prior in June. It wasn’t the best of times, and tensions were high. People were unhappy and fed up. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and I hoped and prayed that I would soon see my people and homeland in a better state.
Fast forward to 2015, and that was definitely the case. As a photographer, there has been nothing as satisfying as documenting my own country. Your connection to a place greatly impacts how you document it; how you decide to frame your shot, what you say before you take the image and what you might say after it. It’s not just my connection to the land, but my love and affection for the subjects I encountered that affected how my photographs turned out.
For me, Iran has always been like a past lover. Someone who is familiar to me, yet inaccessible to an extent. Someone who knows me inside out, someone who I feel completes me, and most of all, someone that has had an incredible impact and influence on the who I am and the way I think and perceive the world around me. For that, and much more, I owe a lot to my homeland. Despite moving abroad at the age of 8, I feel an attachment and love for this country in ways I sometimes can’t even describe. It has acted as my Muse for as long as I can remember, and I often think that perhaps my relationship to Iran would not have been like this if I had stayed. Regardless, it is a relationship and connection that has come to define who I am today.
It was a short trip. We spent about 2 weeks in Iran, mostly in Tehran where I’m originally from. It’s a chaotic and rugged metropolitan that’s filled with endless paradoxes that make it extremely interesting yet at times confusing. Its gorgeous mountains act as a backdrop, and are probably my favourite feature of the city. We also traveled to Kashan and Isfahan, and managed to visit Abyaneh Village, one of the oldest and most historical villages in Iran today. You can see my photo essay on Abyaneh here.
There’s a great quote from the movie Orange County that goes like this: “…every good writer has a conflicted relationship with the place where he grew up”. I remember when I first heard that; I’m not claiming to be a good writer, or photographer. But that quote spoke to me, and I think it’s because it explained roughly the influence my relationship with Iran has had on my life. It did, in many ways, motivate me to become a writer and a photographer. Or at the very least, it has directly impacted my vision as one.
My work is driven by my nostalgia. It’s what gives me hope, and it’s most definitely where my inspiration comes from. For that, I owe everything to my roots and my heritage.