Girls smoking in a hallway of the university during a break. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

Mahud, climbing the wall of the abandoned empty swimming pool, which is the only quiet place he can find to practice singing. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

Glimpses of ordinary life in Iran are few and far between. Mostly, what we are accustomed to seeing are pictures of political leaders or gatherings of people listening to those political leaders. But photographer Newsha Tavakolian’s book, “Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album” (Kehrer Verlag, 2015), aims to give us a peek at the ordinary lives of middle-class Iranians. Tavakolian followed nine Iranians from her own generation with the goal of compiling a portrait of middle-class life in Iran.

Tavakolian takes the family photo album as the starting point for her project, saying, “The family photo album is the showcase for my generation. The yellowed albums and the pictures of smiling children dressed up in their best clothes are testament to our hopes and dreams, but they end in blank pages, and the moment when our parents stopped taking our pictures […].” By following people from her own generation and documenting their day-to-day lives, Tavakolian is hoping to fill in the blank spots of those family albums, saying she is hoping “to add the pictures that were never taken of the way that life is for them now, grown up. I followed nine people who in a sense define this generation. They are interchangeable, thus representing many. This photo album is theirs; it is my vision of life in Iran now, unromantic and confined. Those who feature on the pages are interchangeable, placed randomly in the natural installation of what is and can be their daily lives.”

Newsha Tavakolian (b.1981 in Tehran) began working professionally in the Iranian press at age 16. She has since covered regional conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen. Her work is published in international magazines and newspapers such as Time, Newsweek, Stern, Le Figaro, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, NRC Handelsblad and the New York Times Magazine.


Najieh and another woman doing volunteer work with underprivileged children at a school. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

A portrait of Somayyeh, a 32-year-old divorced teacher. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

A taxi driver in his car on a rainy day. Behind him a poster of an upcoming performance of Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot.” (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

A young woman tries to sneak a peek of a drawing of a woman covered by white paper in Qaem Mall. under Iran’s Islamic laws, showing women’s bodies in public is forbidden. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

A view of a microphone and an empty stage in Tehran. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

Ali holding his daughter Hadis, who is celebrating her 8th birthday with family. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

A worker drilling into the wall to fix a vent on the campus of Tehran University of Art. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

A couple sitting by the sea. (© Newsha Tavakolian for the Carmignac Foundation)

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