Iran's election season is a challenging time for photographers trying to capture the buzz in the country. Therefore, Iranian photojournalist Behrouz Mehri tried a different approach for Agence France Press: he decided to capture ordinary scenes in Tehran, Iran's capital and where he was born, from the backseat of a car.
“I did this to show that it’s hard to make photos in Tehran, especially during election season,” Mehri told AFP.
Iranians are set to chose a new president on June 14. Eight candidates are battling to succeed current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and most of them are fiercely loyal to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. However, as the Associated Press notes, security forces across the country are cracking down on every possible form of protests to prevent a repetition of the widespread demonstrations that shook the country after the 2009 election.
Mehri has worked with AFP since 1998. In an interview with the organization, he explains the difficulties that come with reporting from Iran's capital.
Ordinarily, photographers must get a permit from the culture ministry, which regulates foreign press, for each in-town assignment. “But that’s only good for uniformed police officers. There are other security forces, like the intelligence services or the Basij (a paramilitary volunteer force), who can choose to ignore this authorisation. Sometimes we are delayed for hours, and we miss the photo,” Mehri says. Some of his colleagues have even been arrested while at public events they were invited to cover. “Basically, we never really feel at ease in the street. We’re always expecting problems,” he adds.
Mehri's photos paint a diverse picture of the city. Fruit stalls, a man carrying a set of balloons, women drinking tea on the streets, men chit-chatting on a street corner. The photographer says he hopes his photos show Tehran's many faces to foreigners who may have misconceptions about the city. He also wants to address Iranians, "especially those who spend their time in their cars without looking around, without noticing what’s happening on their city’s streets.”
Take a look at Mehri's fascinating photos in the slideshow below.