As I look through all my photos from Iran so far, I can see many photos I like.
But I ask myself. What is the story here?!
I think it is the most important ingredient in a really good photo!
I try to explain it in my video, so if you’d rather see that, click HERE.
Here is a more detailed train of thought.
What story does this tell you? I have my interpretation of it. Let me know in the comments!
Im not even sure if I can honestly say Ive got “the one” great photo from this trip. Street photography and street portraits for 30 days in Iran. Yeah? So what? Tell me the story.
I have a few good ones I really like myself. But as my own worst critic, have I got that banger so far?
Ive always questioned my photos like this, hardly ever happy… But. It is also a good thing! It keeps me hungry for making better photos, and keeps challenging me. Always taking something from a photo session or a project, thinking how can I get just a little bit better for the next photoshoot or project - what is one thing I can improve?!
One thing I know I can improve for street portraits and street in general is to get peoples story, if I get the chance to hang around. I didn’t do a great job at that while photographing these Afghan kids I stumbled upon in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran. Language barriers has that effect. I got the main story that they had fled Afghanistan because of war and conflict, and in the pursuit of a better life in Iran.
Pursuit of a better life in Tehran, Iran
Now they were in Tehran, picking garbage, living in and around the Tehran Grand Bazaar. A better life? That really gave me another perspective, and made me realise how fucking lucky I am. How privileged. How utterly insignificant my own struggles are, compared to the struggles and challenges to the vast majority of the rest of the world. It is the truth, and it is quite humbling. Worth and important to document that.
And that is what I aim for where in my street photography, and my travels. Everyone can take pretty pictures with excellent cameras phones come with these days. But can you tell a story, or at least give us some perspective to the world, from the world?
And perspectives for better or for worse - as long as it broadens my horizon and inch or two, I’m quite happy to take it! Makes me appreciate an image more.
Anyway, back to Tehran and the Grand Bazaar. It is a maze! A really good start to warm up, and kick off you street photography adventure. It has everything - different small shops, colours, interesting people, posh parts, scruffy and dodgy parts.
One day I got lost, and exited the thing in a less pretty part. The sidewalk looked a little bit like a squatter-camp. I could see some people smoking their drugs… Although it was daylight, and the street around was quite busy, all eyes were on me (or my camera backpack). I felt it! But I sat down, and pretended not to care. Played with my camera, casually taking some random pictures here and there, just so people could get used to me. Then I started approaching people, indicating I wanted to take their pictures. Some said no, some said yes, and I stuck around!
Getting lost in Tehran Grand Bazaar
After a while another fella came along. He had something to show me! There was a crowd gathering, and my personal space kept shrinking. This man showed me what looked like rocks to me, picked up another one, and I pretended to be interested, pointing, looking, saying “hmmm, thats interesting!!”
When I had no personal space left, a guy grabbed my arm and dragged me out of there saying “Dude, you gotta come with me! Ill explain when we sit down in a coffee-shop!”
Slightly confused, I follow this stranger to a coffee-shop, and, long story short, he told me that guy had tried to sell me drugs. And his buddies had shielded the outside world from prying eyes i.e. the police.
“It did not look good when you quite loudly proclaimed this looks interesting” He said.
My hero - saved the day.
Maybe the dealer thought, since I stuck around for so long, that I was in the market for illegal substances. Who knows?!
Iranians will take care of you.
Here is the video with some more photos as well.
See you on the road.