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Music, photography and painting are now the leading means of protest in Iran.
Music has become one of the leading means of protests in Iran.
Painting has become one of the leading means of protest in Iran.
Photography has become one of the leading means of protest in Iran.

Inside Iran: The art of resistance — the photographs

Part 3: Despite government restrictions, there is a renaissance taking place in Iranian photography, art and music.

In a sense his work is predictive of an evolving society, but it also serves as a documentation of life in Iran’s frenetic capital. Locals might find it hard to understand what it is he is trying to capture, but that does not seem to have much impact on his desire to go after these seemingly obscure images.

In yet another series, he shot the windows of various Tehran shops after they were closed for the day, which got the attention of the police, who warned that if any of the shops he photographed were robbed in the coming days, he would likely be the prime suspect.

While others have used such intimidation to build a case for asylum, Ghazali sees it as a fact of life.

“These things have become normal for us. We know the challenges we face. I know sometimes when I go out and shoot I will get detained. So I'll bring a few photos of other examples from the same project I'm working on,” he said.

The constant struggle between photographers trying to capture images of life in Tehran and the city’s authorities who try to stop them has for many become indicative of the struggle for greater freedom of expression. Those who continue to work under these arguably stifling circumstances, though, find considerable inspiration from the challenge.

Ghazali and Tavakolian said they remained undeterred, and in their perseverance and that of other photographers working in Iran, one can hope for an ever clearer picture of the young and dynamic society living inside this oft unseen and equally misunderstood land.

“A lot of people get upset about the police stopping us, but it's part of the reality. I just think to myself ‘he's doing his job and I'm doing mine,’” Ghazali said.

Inside Iran: the art of resistance, Part 1 — The music

Inside Iran: the art of resistance, Part 2 — The paintings