Niko R. 1:32pm, 12 June 2008
Hello all!

I will be travelling to Iran next saturday along with my wife and her family. Our stay will be mainly in Shiraz but we will also spend time in Tehran and Esfahan.

I have just a couple of questions that I trust someone here will be able to answer.

My first concern is the right to photograph on a public place. In my country (Finland) one can take a picture anywhere, any time and of anyone, given that the place is one with public acces to anyone. One doesn´t need to ask for permission before taking a picture of someone. I tend to still ask however, baceuse I think it´s a question of ethics. Still, there are situations where asking will just ruin the picture.

So #1: Whats the take on public photography in Iran?

My second point of pondering is this: if you look at my photostream, you will see that I mainly shoot model / portrait pictures. I also use off camera lighting and flashes a lot. Here, I can just set up lighting on the street without worrying much about permissions etc.
I do not want my photography to bother anyone, and much less do I want to get in trouble while I am in Iran.

So #2: Do you think I should just leave my lighting equpment at home?

I shoot mainly digitally, but I am bringing my film body, too.

So #3: What is the film availability situation in there? Who is a trustworthy developer in Shiraz? I want to know if I can find Kodak Portra and/or Fuji Provia in Iran? If not, what are the negetive/slide films I should get while in there?

And, #4: am I allowed to bring camera gear into the airplane on national flights (i mean from Shiraz to Tehran for example). I am mainly concerned about tripods/light stands.

If you can help me with any of these issues, I would be very very thankful indeed!

Last I want to state that I look forward to visiting Iran for the first time, after all it is the country of a half (the better half) of my family.

Even though most of my photography and the pictures I make for clients are "highly" polished, I want to concentrate on more of a photojournalistic approach while I am in Iran. I don´t want to make any political statements though, I just want to record the daily life from the period I spend in there. My stay is not a long one, we are there for only about 6 weeks, but I am planning a longer stay when I get the change. This time I just want to have a good time and get some pictures in the process.

Thanks for your help!

Niko Rakkolainen
Niko R. 10 years ago
I have to apologize for writing in english but my farsi is not perfect!

I can understand and speak farsi on a level that I can communicate with people, so if anyone of you should want to reply with your own language, I will try and understand :D
Ali Daneshgar 10 years ago
Hi Nikko :)
let me welcome you and your family to Iran in advance, hope you enjoy your stay in Iran.

now your questions,
#1. I dont think if you face any problem taking pics in public, streets... but some places its strictly forbidden,there is no rule applied to all over the country and places
for example some religious places, even some meuseums

#2. well if you are using "off camera lightings and flashes" then you might face some problems, and some one might bug u for that, u might need permission because you are shooting professionally, though maybe in some touristic cities such as Shiraz its ok, I hope my other countrymen can answer this question more clearly, as far as there are some professionals visiting this group once in a while

#3. sorry i do not know, i leave it to my friends to answer you :)

#4. its ok as far as they r small enough so you can put them in your
hand luggage :) (obviously they should not look like a cold weapon, here polices are always suspicious about such things)
Niko R. 10 years ago
Thanks for your reply! Really apprecciate it!

I guess I will try and keep the lit photos in places where I can be sure that I am not breaking any laws. I will have locals with me at all times, so maybe they will also know something about this subject.

I hope that my tripod will not be considered as a cold weapon.
Ali Daneshgar Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Ali Daneshgar (member) 10 years ago
your welcome man

i really dont think they bug you, though if they do, dont get shocked, anything is expected from the police and security men here(after all they r a pain making everyone tired of their stupid behaviours)

and one thing i should note here, is filtering in Iran, flickr is filtered here, so you cant have access to Flickr, unless you use an anti-filter, or firefox extension made by one of Iranian flickr member, Mr. Hamed Saber (this group's admin.) , you can find this extension on firefox add-ons page

if u got any other question feel free to ask :)
Niko R. 10 years ago
I do not think that i will be uploading from Iran. I am actually really looking forward to leaving the computer aside for a month or so :D And doing other things with my daily online time... But we´ll see how that goes.

I am just hoping to meet some real people in there and also I hope that I can capture who they are in my images.

I call Finland "The country of cold shoulders". There are so may ignorant and totally un-approachable people here that I am really getting sick of it.
r_sh_n 10 years ago
there is no stablished rules or laws to prevent you from taking pictures in public places ( unless it is mentioned other wise) but there are different people with different backgrounds in my country some , may consider a simple photo shoot a threat to their privacy and some others may be very open . i think you should first sneak around and test your subjects
about question 2 i give the same answer : try not to bother people because they may not act friendly if their privacy is invaded
q3: i do not know about shiraz or esfahan but i am sure you can find anything in Tehran
q4: i think you should ask from a travelling agency but in my own experience a medium sized backpack is always ok!!
have fun
Alphamale 10 years ago
Regaring your first question, I think you should really be warned about photography in public places. Forget about bringing any strobe or tripod or anything eye-catching like that to the public. There are so many people who would be ready to make a jerk of themselves.

Just two days ago, after being in Iran for 3 days, I was stopped by a bunch of secret security men in Tajrish sq. for taking a picture of the street. They were dressed in normal suits and were reluctant to show ID to me. One of them grabbed my camera from me while the other two were questioning me. I was lucky to leave the scence without any harm.

I don't see why people get worried when they see a little bit of sophistication in photography equipments. I was just carrying a dslr. I guess harassment against photographer is worlwide and it's just worse in Iran.
Ali Daneshgar 10 years ago
@ Martia,
u r right those so called security men in normal clothes r everywhere to bug photographers, but tajrish is a place even if u go ur own way, those idiots appear from nowhere and bug u

i think photography should be more tolerated by security men in touristic cities such as shiraz, though anything is expected

after all, those guys r paranoid
Niko R. 10 years ago
wow, that really takes the edge of my enthusiasm.

I still don´t want to trash anyones politics, but to be honest, I think that is absolutelly laughable.

My main photographic interest lies in shooting the family life of the people I will be spending time with, so I am sure I will get something out of the trip.

I am truly greatful for your help!

Kahske farsiye man yek khorde behtar boode. Kheyli in threadham jalebtar shode bood :D

Vali omidvaram ke bad az in safar, mitunam hamin inja yek seri az an axha ke gereftam "post" mikonam! :) Bebinid, kalamate computeri/interneti man aslan balad nistam.

r_sh_n 10 years ago
too farsi hamoon post estefade mishe
no worries man!
Soofi Tavafi 10 years ago
@ martia and aryobarzan.
the things you are saying is absolutly correct for local people in iran but not for a tourist.
Amelism 10 years ago
man fekr mikonam be onvane tourist shoma moshkele chandani nakhahid dasht, negaran nabashin mardom IRAN be tourist kheili ehteram migzaran va agar ehyanan moshkeli ham az tarafe police ya afrade dige eejad beshe hal mishe.
damonlynch 10 years ago
I would suggest being careful in Tehran especially, while being more relaxed in touristic places like Esfahan and Shiraz. The contact I've had with the tourist police has been very nice. As for the others, hmmmm....

Here is a description of what happened to me last year:

Just yesterday I had an encounter with the lipstick police in Vali asa square -- the ones who keep the streets safe from women who wear too much makeup, or have a button missing from their overcoat. I watched them apprehend a woman in her 40s.The police, who till that point had been standing around chatting, sprung into action. The woman's companion was screaming at the them as her friend was bundled into the van. One of policeman watched me and became curious as to whether I had photographed their work. Soon I was surrounded by police and naturally they found nothing of any interest. One member of the public felt saddened by this and gave me a free ice cream lol.
Alphamale 10 years ago
Soofi Tavafi - I have done photography in different parts of the world and regardless of one incident, I have always been treated with respect and now in my own country the story is up side down. It's so sad if what you are saying is true. That would be discrimination on the top of all the bull...
Niko R. 10 years ago
I don´t understand this.

Where I live people can not distinguish Iranians from the Iraqis AND a vast majority of people see both of those nations (especially Iran) as big-bad-evil nations with nothing but discrimination and violence and human rights violations.

Don´t get me wrong, there are a lot of very educated and smart peole here, who do not form their opinions of countries based on the scandal media, but in many occasions when I say "I am visiting Iran this summer" I get a look that says "man I hope you get outta there alive".
One comment was "I am sure that there are some nice people there, though most of them are terrorists."

I was stunned. I can´t believe the view people have of Iran.

I was psyched (and still am) that I could be there and photograph the kind and caring people and bring those images here. I have a good chance at getiing public notice for my images and even though I am pretty sure that the general (media propaganda powered) view of Iranians would not shift, maybe even a couple of people would go "hey, they are people just like us and only want to live their lifes in peace".

Now my thoughs are that i should just be objective and let the trip pass trough my lens on my sensor and try to figure the result out when I return to finland.

I don´t want to seem like I would be on an ego trip or a mission to save the world, but rather just show people what I see.
Ali Daneshgar 10 years ago
@ Soofi,
u r right, but i think it still exists for non-iranians as well, even though it might be rare and happens in some cities like Tehran, at least i have seen some cases myself in person

this discrimination exists, and some times i feel like an stranger in my own country

@ Niko
dont worry at all and dont get afraid by wat we say here, no one can harm u here, and people are kind toward non-iranians
if its anything its about the govt. men
i for one am saying that if some one showed up and said that u should not photograph for no reason, then dont get shocked, this is rare, but might happen
and for reassuring u, i am sure u can take some wonderful shots from people here
Neeku 10 years ago
@ Niko 1900: I didn't read all the comments others have made, so this might be repeated;
#1, I don't think you have any problem taking photos in public, specially that you're a tourist and most Iranians like to be paid attention by foreigners and tourists!! However some people specially very Muslim women might not like someone take their photos, though there may not be any 'forbidden' sign.
I'm very amateur, so I'd rather not answer the rest of the questions!

Have a nice journey. :)
Niko R. 10 years ago
Thanks Neeku and everyone else!

This has been very helpful!!
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