An Iranian Journey by Hossein Fatemi

Women smoking indoors by Hossein Fatemi.

Two women share a kiss whilst openly smoking in public. Females smoking in public is banned in Iran.

Iran has been a place of mystery for many years now with Westerners, with relations often standing on an icy precipice with its neighbours. This is what makes Iranian photographer Hossein Fatemi’s photo documentation of the secret lives of many Iranians so special. Giving us a glimpse of the alternative Iran, one not covered by the foreign or domestic media and hiding underneath one of the world’s most infamous dictatorships.

Fatemi says there is a ‘semi-hidden part of the country’ behind closed doors, something which he clearly aimed to bring to the fore in this project. That is not to say his mission was not without challenges, taking the photographer months to gain access to some of these facilities, with subjects often cancelling appointments for fear of losing their jobs or from retribution elsewhere. Pushing the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in Iran and exploring the lives of those who challenge the current status quo, ‘An Iranian Journey’ by Hossein Fatemi makes for both fascinating and informative viewing.


A brand performing in a secret rock gig by Hossein Fatemi.

A secret Rock gig in session. Rock music is illegal in Iran.

Iranian women in a beauty salon in Tehran. It is forbidden for men to enter to women beauty salon and also they cannot do any make up for women.

An all female beauty and hair salon in Tehran. Men are strictly forbidden.

Iranian women working out in an all female gym by Hossein Fatemi.

Women work out in an all female gym.

Two Iranian women dancing together at a party by Hossein Fatemi.

These two ladies drink and dance at a private party.

A man lying on a bed with a large black dog by Hossein Fatemi.

A man relaxes with his dog in the privacy of his own home. Dogs are considered unclean and so are usually kept indoors by their owners.

A man smoking indoors in a rocking chair by Hossein Fatemi.

A local artist enjoys a drink and a smoke indoors.

Words by Olivia Cooley. All images property of Hossein Fatemi.

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert