These photos of everyday life in Iran may surprise some: women casually smoking or wearing simple t-shirts (instead of burqas), men secretly playing rock music (which is banned in the country), and parties where both genders socialize in the same room (another forbidden condition). It is unfortunately quite easy to get caught up in the limited scope that much of the media portrays as Iran, particularly as an American.
Hossein Fatemi’s photos fortunately show us another side of a people who should not necessarily be swept under the same rug as their government leaders:
This last photo of a man and his dog is what surprised me the most. Apparently Islamic law considers dogs to be unclean animals and are thus banned from being kept as pets. Dog lovers in Iran are categorized by the government as “blindly imitating the West”—a strange decree since all one has to do is take a look at all the dog breeds that exist to know that they are certainly not a Western construct. Even so, dog owners must actually keep their beloved animals indoors at all times in order to avoid having them taken away by the authorities.
Ultimately, photography and documentation like this creates depth and a deeper sense of truth towards societies often caricatured by politics and media stereotypes. Instead of nuclear weapons and public executions, here we can see into the lives of people who enjoy many of the same things we do—not only in terms of Western-influenced clothing and music, but also in neutral facets such as a love for animals, books, and beauty.
More photos from this set here.