Mehran Hamrahi is a twenty seven year old photographer with experience capturing the events of two major earthquakes in his home country of Iran in both 2011 and 2012. Mehran learned his skill at the Iranian Youth cinema society in 2009. Currently, Mehran is putting his efforts into a project that documents the daily and often misinterpreted lives of Iranian youth in his project titled "Iranian People, Ordinary or Criminals?"
The photos published to this date include youth identified solely by their first name. The actions depicted in the work are activities that could be considered innocent, statistically common to youth and young adults in the Western world. The photos show youth and young adults from age 18 to 30 partaking in relatable pastimes: getting a first tattoo, shopping for trendy and stylish clothing, applying makeup, playing loud music while driving, smoking cigarettes, drinking and dancing at a social outing, playing a musical instrument, caring for pets, logging into a facebook account, spending time with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and choosing to follow a faith outside of Islam. All of the recreational ventures mentioned above are punishable by law In Iran, and in some cases, by death.
Mehran's goal is in his project to show the world the simple similarities between Iranian youth and Western youth, rather the misconceived extreme displays mistakenly projected by the media. “Many Westerners have a negative perception of Iran in their minds. They see images of fanatical Iranians and assume these beliefs are held by the whole population. My project aims to convey a portrait of the daily lives of Iranian youth, the ones who dream of pursuing 'a free life'.”
This is what is beautifully felt by the viewer of these photos: a quick ability to relate and comprehend the desire to build ones life from familial to independence. All of the youth and young adults depicted work to conceal their activities, and often feel desperate in their pursuit of what they call 'a free life'. Due to their limitations and lack of approved recreation, according to the Iranian Psychiatric Association, between 15 to 20 percent Iranian youths suffer from depression. The country has one of the largest young population in the world: 70% of the 76 million population are under 35. Many dream of leaving Iran and pursuing modern lives, rather then following traditional and what they feel are limiting policies.
Mehran's photos show young people who are growing up, learning about who they are and enjoying their friends and romantic partners around them. They communicate the story of young people with hopes, dreams, hobbies and desires incredibly similar to any of those young people in the world. They reach out to connect with their observers and portray the truth that we as human beings are more alike then different. “I am trying to introduce the Iranian youth to the world and narrate their stories in ways that are true to their hopes.”
View the entire set of photos here: