Streets

Taken in Lalezar, a neighbourhood in the capital of Iran, that contains all the dimensions of Tehran, past and present: modern, political, commercial, and touristic. Lalezar Street is the first modern boulevard in #Tehran. It was built by Naser al-Din Shah Qajar in 1873, inspired by his first visit to Europe. The street was the hipster neighbourhood of its time, housing loads of shops, cafes and restaurants. It also had a thriving and popular film and theatre culture. Today, it’s nicknamed  “the graveyard of theatres”.

Kyoto was once the capital of Japan. It’s nicknamed “City of ten thousand shrines”, and it definitely lives up to its name. Walking in and around Kyoto, and photographing the city instilled in me the same sense of zen that the Buddhist shrines and temples did. The traditional wooden houses proved to be an interesting backdrop for photos, especially when unexpected locals strolled into the frame.

On Amantani Island, the women thread and weave. The island is two and a half hours by boat from the city of Puno, which sits at the edge of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. The women wear the same traditional clothing and walk steep paths to get to their humble homes. They cook quinoa soup and potatoes, and speak Quechua. They create beautiful crafts and sell their artisans up on the hills in different parts of the island.

I took this photo in Havana, peering into the narrow cobble-stone streets of the Old City, and taking in the beautiful architecture and lively people as they interacted with one another. I stopped a bit before taking this photo, noticing the people walking into the frame, the ones walking out, and the ones who stayed put, not noticing my lens, and going about their day. It made for an interesting shot that was reflective of the the constant movement of Havana as a city.

The little rural town of Longhua was unlike anything I had ever seen. I decided to photograph the community and the way they live,, and realized that although my surroundings were so new to me and although I was so alien to such a lifestyle, my emotional response to the people created a connection and warmth that was extremely rewarding and memorable.

I was in Beijing a very short time, and my first look of the city was this narrow alleyway, where I was staying for 2 days. At night, the lights and lanterns lit the the street up, and locals went about their day, tending to their shops and going home to their families. It was a quiet side of Beijing I never thought existed, or one I’d experience.

Inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting “Nighthawks”, this series attempts to reflect on urban loneliness and human isolation. I am interested in documenting how people respond to spaces within a city, and how that contrasts or resembles the human anxiety to connect. The difficulties of achieving intimacy and the vulnerabilities associated with that motivated me to explore the theme of urban emptiness, while reflecting on social interactions and the deeply human paradox of longing for connection yet fearing to be seen.

For me, it’s always been a struggle to document where I live and call home. Toronto, as interesting of a city as it is, is difficult to capture for many reasons, the main one being that it feels too familiar. After many years, I decided to begin documenting it again, and one day, on my way home from work, from across the street, I saw three men standing in front of a pub chitchatting.  They said hello, and suddenly, that sense of familiarity wasn’t such a bad thing anymore.

Tokyo was everything I thought it would be: busy and hectic, but highly organized and slightly traditional. In most cases, it also felt like a solitary city, where most locals travelled solo, occupied with their chaotic work infused lives. This was a refreshing sight, where as I wandered the streets, I stumbled upon friends and companionship. Maybe good things do come in twos after all.

Kashan is often bypassed by tourists when they make the trip from Tehran to Isfahan, which adds to the city’s quiet and calm vibe. Kashan dates back approximately 9000 years, and contains endless historical sites, including mosques and traditional 19th century houses. Walking amongst the old, mud brick architecture with the sun beaming, I captured the odd pedestrian going about her day.

Isfahan, nicknamed “nesfe jahan” which translates to “half of the world”, is a one of my favourite cities in Iran. With hipster cafes, incredible food, exquisite Islamic architecture, and majestic bridges, there is always something to see and do. It is also a city that thrives on art and culture, friendly locals and a spirituality that underlines its very fabric.

Susan Sontag once said: “A photograph is not just the result of an encounter between an event and a photographer; picture-taking is an event in itself, and one with ever more peremptory rights, to interfere with, to invade, to ignore whatever is going on”. I’ve always felt that as a photographer, exploiting things as they appeared to me, was not only drawing attention to the subjects, but more so to my role as an active photographer. My attempt has always been to document, not exploit. This photo was taken in northern Tehran, and I remember taking it, trying very hard to not be intrusive. He looked away just as I pressed down on the shutter.

I fell in love with Nishijin, one of Kyoto’s most traditional neighbouhoods. The quiet alleys, lined on both sides with machiya (traditional Japanese houses) and wooden architecture were reflective of the Japan that oftentimes is less spoken about, in comparison to the modern, big cities the country is known for. On one sunny day, I took this photo, which captures the uniqueness and tranquility of the district.

Mostar is a city in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. I travelled for 4 hours by bus from Sarajevo, suddenly in a city that straddles the Neretva River, and has endless alleys that are full of shops and market stalls. The friendly locals sell handcrafts and woven good, souvenirs and trinkets that travellers can take back for their loved ones.

Iran is complex. It’s paradoxical, political and highly stigmatized. But it’s also much more than that. Through my photographs, I attempt to provide a counter narrative through the portrayal of the everyday in Iran. Often defined by its politics, I try to encourage viewers to instead understand the intricate country through its people, and transcend the usual politicized narrative we are exposed to. This local narrative offers a much-needed perspective that humanizes the Iranian people, an important aspect of the country that is often ignored, misunderstood, and stereotyped.

In Tehran, if you’re middle class, chances are you’ve never or very rarely been to the south of the city. Often described as poor, drug infested, and overly religious, neighbourhoods in Southern Tehran are not tourist attractions, but relay a reality of the city that many like to ignore. Tehran is a paradox, and understanding its many sides is dependent on visiting parts of it that don’t necessarily align to one’s own lifestyle and privilege. This was taken in Share Ray; with narrow alleys, friendly locals, Shah-Abdol-Azim shrine, and the main bazaar, the neighbourhood has a lot to offer.

The flower market in Tehran smelled like roses and tulips. Locals walked from stall to stall, buying fresh plants for cheaper prices, and high quality, while workers stocked up. There was a section that sold ceramics, vases and decorative material, While rummaging through handcrafts, I began photographing shoppers, using the materials and objects around me as a lens.

This photo was taken in the neighbourhood of Tlatelolco, literally meaning “in the little hill of land” in Mexico City. It is the site of the 1968 Mexican student demonstrations, an incident in which approximately 10,000 university and high school student gathered to protest the government’s actions. As a result, it is also the site the massacre, where over 1300 people were arrested and more than 300 were killed. This was 10 days before the start of the 1968 summer Olympics. Today, the neighbourhood pays tribute to the tragic event and lives lost, and enjoys a sense of peace.

The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, sits at the bottom of a valley, hugged by the surrounding hills. Ravaged by war, the high number of casualties during the Yugoslav conflict resulted in the use of Sarajevo’s open spaces as graveyards. I visited many of these cemeteries, and while walking amongst one, I saw a woman paying her respects, standing quietly with her arms folded behind her, looking out towards the endless gravestones that were scattered on the hill.

In Sarajevo, remnants of the Bosnian War can be seen on the daily. Despite their beauty, the hills bring back memories of war, to a time when Serb snipers were positioned there during the siege. At the same time, the casual way locals went about their lives made me think that the current times and the future is what they are most concerned with.

One rainy afternoon in Sarajevo, I was strolling along, when I found myself in one of the green spaces of the city, surrounded by what felt like the start of Spring. I knew my time in Bosnia was coming to an end, and in that moment, what I felt was in line with what I saw, instilling in me a hope for new beginnings as well as the natural need to let go.

In photography, there is a tendency to ignore the everyday and instead concentrate on the exceptional, the great and the powerful. I am interested in documenting the unexceptional and the repetitive, the things I see on the streets but don’t take the opportunity to photograph. Through the aesthetics of street photography, my goal was to capture the essence of the shared experience between subjects and viewer. This photo was taken in downtown Toronto.