Ehsan Hemmati street photography

Street photographer Ehsan Hemmati is a master at depicting surreal and magical moments from the streets of Kermanshah, Iran and beyond. We asked him a few questions about his approach to photography.

September 07, 2019

Ehsan Hemmati has a unique way of looking at the world which he expertly conveys through his photos.

Scenes from the street become isolated vignettes of minimalist magic, weaving rich stories intersecting dreams, surrealism, and childhood nostalgia - all through the guise of modern life happening in the city.

Many of Ehsan's incredible images were created on an iPhone, showing that it is truly the eye and imagination of the photographer over the gear.

In fact, all of the images featured here were photographed with an iPhone.

What other types of cameras do you use besides your phone?

For digital, I use a Fujifilm X-A with a 16-50mm lens. I also use a few film cameras including a 1980's era Zenit 122 SLR with a 58mm lens, and a compact Olympus XA4 macro.

I highly recommend the Olympus which is a good street photography camera because it is high quality, easy to keep in your pocket, and nobody pays attention to you when you are walking with it on the street.

But I still like using my trusty iPhone for candid street photos because I am always carrying it, the quality is good, and people either don't notice me taking photos, or think I'm taking a selfie.

Are there any specific apps you use on your phone?

I use Snapseed.

You travel around and do street photography in different places. Is there something unique about Iran as compared with photographing in other countries?

Iran is wonderful country for documentaries and portraits. Whether in Iran or abroad, you’d better take it easy, have fun with it, and see what you can find at the moment.

Do you often have an idea of what you want to photograph before starting, or do you prefer to wander around and see what's interesting?

I enjoy the element of surprise. I wander around and see what is going on.

Are all of your photos created in a single frame? Or do you also create composites from multiple images?

90% of them are single frame. However I hardly ever do composite. It depends on the story.

How do you personally decide what is a good photograph?

I look at the thumbnails and wait a few days. When I’m in doubt, I wait more to see how I feel about it in couple of weeks.

What is one of your favorite most iconic photos you have taken, and what do you like most about it?

They are the ones I took when I was a kid. Nostalgia.

Do you ever use inspiration from your dreams for your imagery?

I’d say maybe some of the ideas are the ones I see in my dreams. But I let them happen, and I try to capture those moments.

Have you ever taken a photo that surprised you in the way it came out? (like you had a another vision or idea which turned out very differently than expected)?

It sometimes happens. It is like fishing.

Many of your photos have universal themes and symbolism. For example, in this image, the people are in shadow while the bright white bird might convey ideas like peace and light.

Is this something you consciously seek to create with your images?

Well to answer to that question, I basically create the photo and let the viewer decide.

You can find more of Ehsan Hemmati's photography on his Aminus3 website, Ehsan Hemmati's Daily Photo.

In this excellent short film, Ehsan takes us through the curtain and behind the scenes, providing a glimpse into his thoughts, methods and the world of Iranian street photography.

TOPICS: unraveled symbolism street photography

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