Washington, DC – In the summer of 2010, Brandon Stanton set out to take pictures of the Humans of New York. He posted his touching photographs of ordinary people to a blog, captioning them with quotes from his conversations with the subjects. The Humans of New York website and social media pages went viral. Stanton travelled to Iran in 2012 and again in 2015 where he continued to take pictures of strangers, conveying their hopes, dreams, disappointments, and stories.
A photograph from his most recent visit to Iran pictures a young woman in a sky blue headscarf, sitting at a restaurant table in Namakabroud. The caption details her view on the strict Islamic society that surrounds her.
“Things are getting freer,” she said. “Even a few years ago, I couldn’t wear what I’m wearing now without inviting a rebuke. The scarves are getting brighter and looser. The sleeves are getting shorter. The laughter is getting louder. This is a very young country. More than half the population is under 30. This country is full of mischievous, curious Iranian children. And the people who make the rules are getting older. And just like the Iranian parent, they are getting exhausted.”
Other stories focus on more mundane activities like swimming, work, and roller skating. One boy, dressed in plaid shorts and a T-shirt, leaned into his father at the beach. The young kid exclaimed, “My dad taught me how to swim!” When Stanton asked him how to swim, the boy replied, “First put on your life jacket and then hold on to the raft.”
Humans of Iran, like Humans of New York, contains tales of humor, of adventure, of love, and of tragedy, but all provide insight into Iran’s culture. Stanton made sure to emphasize the difference between the Iranian government and the Iranian people in a 2012 blog post.
“Iran’s government is not its people,” Stanton emphasizes. “You can greatly enjoy a country while at the same time disagreeing with its government. Travel is not advocacy of ideology or policy. Travel is travel, and it’s the single greatest contributor to understanding cultures.”
Click here to see the Humans of Iran webpage.