by Amanda Etemad

Balancing my Iranian and American identities has driven me to explore the land my family comes from. This was only my second time traveling to Iran, but my first trip as an adult. I knew I wanted to challenge myself to explore the country in a different way than just sticking with my family. I embarked on a twelve day solo trip across four major cities to discover the place whose language and culture I grew up with, making sure to pack my Canon Sureshot. 

This photo series gives insight to outsiders of what beauty lies within the borders of a country that not many get to visit, and whose representation is far from positive. From the traditional scenes of the Kandovan village, to the rugs of the Grand Bazaar of Tabriz. From the radical slogans spotted in Ghalat, a hippie-like village outside Shiraz, to the capital of the Achaemenid Empire at Persepolis, to the serene desert landscapes of Yazd and Meybod with their ties to the ancient Zoroastrian religion.

Using the medium of 35mm film allows me to capture modern scenes with a nostalgic flair, which is fitting for a country with a complex history that goes back thousands of years. Weeks before the trip I envisioned the types of pictures I wanted to take: intricate patterns on Persian rugs, architecture with ornate detailing, beautiful landscapes, and hectic streets. With each new city I went to, the scenes I once had in my mind slowly came to life. The camera also proved to be a conversation starter as many were intrigued by the usage of a relic from the 90s. I’ll continue to reflect back on this trip for years to come, but in the meantime I will be sharing other travel photo projects on Instagram @amandaecreates.