Instagram is all about selfies, sunsets, breakfast and pets, Instagram filter hell and wellness heaven. The prejudices stick. But anyone who looks a little further will find Instagrammers, that found their way to photography via the app and its social network. On a regular basis, we talk to them – in collaboration with This Ain’t Art School.
Hamed Farhangi lives and works in Tehran, the capital of Iran, populated by about 9 million people. We talked to Hamed about his hometown, his country and what keeps him busy.
What is Tehran like?
Like most metropolises, Tehran is of crucial importance for the country. Living in Tehran is both physically and mentally exhausting and it can drive you insane.
As for my personal view, I think Tehran is like a paradox which you can neither endure living in nor escape from. It’s like this city never leaves me alone. Living in Tehran is like riding a roller coaster filled with excitement, fear, joy and dizziness!
Because of Iran’s history and the view we get from newspapers, television and politics, most of the western world has a one-sided view of the country. How do you feel about that?
In my opinion the news, newspapers and other media don’t offer a complete picture or correct perception of the geographical and social circumstances of countries in general. I believe that only with physical presence in a place people can grasp some fairly accurate facts about the culture and history of a country, especially about Iran which is frequently in the headlines due to constant cultural and political changes.
Is Instagram popular in Iran? Is there a (big) Instagram community in your hometown?
Yes. As far as I’m aware in Tehran and the other major cities of Iran, a wide range of people — “younger generations to the older generations” — actively use the Internet, especially social networks. As for the Iranian art community, Instagram has a key role in spreading information regarding both auditory and visual events.
What do you do when you are not on Instagram?
As an architectural and construction photographer and as an artist who uses photography, I spend most of my time taking, selecting and editing photos. And I also teach photography to amateurs. Besides that, of course, I’ve other interests such as spending time with friends, my cats, travelling, music … and I must admit that the geographical and political circumstances had always played a role in my life.
Is there a concept behind your Instagram?
For me the process of producing a collection does not start with the concept. The most significant thing that shapes the process is the act of photography itself, analyzing forms and personalizing that form which concludes as concepts like the relation between human and space, landscapes and constructions in the contemporary photography.
Which photographer from Iran should we all know? Who or what inspires you?
As for the inspiration and the things that opened my eyes to the „world of photography“ I think some of the key factors were my job, living in a developing country and most importantly some elements in the history of photography for instance: the Dusseldorf school, the New Topographics movement of the late 1970s and artists like Lewis Blatz, Stephen Shore and Robert Adams. Abbas Attar, Shirana Shahbazi, Mohammadreza Mirzaei, Mehran Mohajer and Ahmad Aali are some of the Iranian photographers that I encourage you to see and check out their works.
How did you first get involved in Instagram?
The thing that got me engaged with Instagram was the visual and photographic nature of this platform. Apart from books and exhibitions, Instagram is a platform that gives you the opportunity to share your works with a wide range of people and get feedback.
Instagram and/or photography?
The culture of seeing and producing photos is constantly changing along with the technological advances like the invention of Kodak’s point and shoot cameras or cell phone cameras and now social networks such as Instagram. For example one of the undeniable side effects of Instagram on photography is encouraging the habit of seeing a great amount of photos quickly and without paying attention to details.
Has Instagram taught you anything about photography?
Yes, for sure. I was introduced to a lot of amazing photographers specializing in different genres. As a result I had some exciting opportunities to collaborate with them. By exposing people to an enormous amount of visual data, Instagram has an indisputable effect on their perception, but you should be cautious and try not to abandon your cameras and be satisfied with the cellphone photography.
Follow Hamed @tehrantracker on Instagram.