Secrets of Iranian Daily Life
by Omid Aladini
Some photos have a direct connexion to your life it seems (for example showing some of your friends?). Other photos do not, like this one. Or maybe they do? Do you often go to the countryside? What about this place? On which occasion did you take it? Like often it seems you are searching for the light! And of course the yellow colour of citrus is a perfect one to reflect the sun. What do they evocate you?
Omid: This photo is from a citrus garden in the north of Iran, around Babol. One of my friends and I were exploring the area and we suddenly saw a woman and a man working in their garden. We helped them and I took some photos. They were very curious why we were there; we told them for no special reason and they didn’t believe us.
Another photo aims at the light: 2 people. Could you tell us more about them? Does this brief encounter happen at the university? It seems you took it not too close, is it right? Did they talk for long, did you stay for a while? Do you remember this particular moment when you took this picture? Where you aware of the effect the light would finally have on it?
Omid: Those are two of my closest friends, Arash and Mil, in a parking lot waiting for another friend. They were talking, not so long, and I was exploring the area. Of course there was nothing special but I remember the noticeable contrast of light and the place we were standing. I used the very limited functionality of my cellphone camera to increase the exposure of light, like the light is invading the area.
Koopa is playing piano: happiness, and friends as well. Light and motion are captured by the mobile phone camera. What about these kinds of moments? Do you often meet with friends and play music?
Omid: This was after a concert in my university. We moved on stage to talk to our friends. Koopa, one of my friends who is very good at playing piano, started playing the piano, I can’t remember exactly what piece. It’s very interesting for me that the rapid movement of his hands is visible in the picture. Thanks to the low shutter speed of my simple cellphone!
Poetry is in moments it seems, even with these dogs basking in the sun. Light, colour and friendship? Is this what photography is all about: moments? Dogs seem to be squashed by the sun, something we can feel from the light, a bit as if the heat and not the camera- was stopping the flow of time, making this instant last for ever.
Omid: Those too were guard dogs of a garden belonging to one of my friend. They were inside the fence and I thought they couldn’t jump out of it. I went near the fence and tried to stimulate the wilder one, the dog which is gazing at me in the photo. I wanted to take a picture while the dog was barking wildly near the fence and was trying to jump out of the cage. Unfortunately I didn’t succeed to shot the moment I had in my mind. The current photo was taken when the dog was thinking whether it should attack me again or not after several times. After I shot a series of photos and I was nearly happy about the outcome, the owner of the dog told me that the dog had recently learned how to jump out of the cage.
I was surprised by Legs. Again I recognise now familiar elements: the light melting in subtle shades of colour, the foot and legs of most probably friends, right? Could you tell us about this other moment? Taking time, relaxing, sharing time is this what it is about? What about the composition of this picture?
Omid: They are my friends, in a small place in university called "Balcony" which is somewhat out of sight. They usually go there to rest between their classes or smoke cigarettes. (Here it’s forbidden for girls to smoke inside the university.) About the composition of the photo, the interesting feature of this photo for me is that one side of the piece of strong light is parallel to the bottom side of the photo and another one is parallel to my friend’s feet. It’s a kind of simple harmony which I like.
Another question comes to my mind: do you like shoes? Shoes are also what the Cobbler works on.
Omid: In my country Converse sport shoes are a symbol of youth, and in a way, a wink at a mythical America. What strikes me here is the angle from which the snapshot is taken. Did you ask for taking the picture? The man does not > bother much about you/us. Here, maybe more than anywhere else, we are placed in an intimate position, one that allows to step in that particular moment and actively witness what is happening. Was it your intention? I like shoes. I’ve recently discovered that sometimes I reflexively look down to see someone’s shoes after the first glance at his/her face. Those shoes were apparently (or may be not!) unoriginal Converse shoes that wore out quite fast! Actually I didn’t ask for taking the picture and it’s visible in the photo that he hasn’t noticed anything. Of course I should have told him before taking the photo, but If I had asked him before, he probably couldn’t have ignored the camera and the photos wouldn’t be like this. The possible outcome was tempting enough that I secretly took the photos while he was working.
Shoes and legs manifest the intention to go somewhere, somewhere you’ re taking us in a sense, as with Fried Mushrooms. It’s often cheesy to take picture of meals. Could you tell us more?
Omid: More than the dish itself it’s the whole nightlife ambiance that they evocate, but I’m just guessing, or projecting my own wishes! The cooking scene belongs to a day we left the university to one of my friend’s home and prepared something for lunch. A combination of mushrooms and slices of sausage! The photo itself might not be able reproduce the atmosphere completely, but as you’ve guessed too close, it partially does.
In a way, a sense of passing through emerges from the light and the haziness, vivid colours against the grain of photos, motion and stillness. This is I think most sensible in the brightness of the red and of the fabrics and faces of Another Year. I wonder why you took this picture so suddenly. Most of the time people take this kind of pictures too late, you seem to have taken even before! I know this question does not make sense if you’re taking your pictures by raising your arms. Is this what you did?
Omid: Those two with red costumes having their faces colored black are traditional heralds of Persian new year, or Norooz. They are called "Haji-Firooz". They sing and dance through the streets with tambourines, days before the start of the new year (March 21). I saw them passing the pavement and I had the chance to take only one photo. Fortunately, it happened to be a good low quality photo.
© Omid Aladini / Organdi 2000-2007