Mrs. Seyhoon, grandmother.

 

Over the past fifteen years, as he has traveled throughout Iran, Mohsen Rastani has been taking family portraits. From sparsely populated villages to small, crowded cities, wherever he goes, he takes a white backdrop with him. Sometimes when he stays in one place for a while, he opens a temporary studio to shoot his portraits. And sometimes he makes the street into his studio. When he sees people he wants to photograph, he tells them he doesn’t wish to bother them but asks them to call him. In this way, his subjects come to him, and when they stand between his camera and the backdrop he allows them to present themselves however they like. To Rastani, the white backdrop is almost as important to these photographs as the people that appear against it. The backdrop, he says, “isolates people better in our minds, so they become eternal … like myths, carved images on the stone walls of Persepolis.”

 

Gypsies with their prize possessions.

 

A woman in Khorramshahr holds a portrait of her son, who was killed in the Iran-Iraq war.

 

A shepherd boy from northern Iran in the coat that saved him from a wolf attack.

 

Villagers from the Elburz mountains.

 

Members of the Basij, the volunteer paramilitary force, Khorramshahr.

 

Madam Nasr with flowers, Tehran.

 

A man in a village near Tabriz who extracted his own teeth.