There were lots of bad things about being an American in Iran

above a wedding near Shahmirzad, Iran

There were lots of bad things about being an American photojournalist in Iran last year. Primarily I had no freedom of movement. I could not go where I wanted to go, I could not do what I wanted to do. I really couldn’t even talk to the people I wanted to. For the month I was there I was only alone in the bathroom and even then…?

The best part of being there was how generous average Iranians were with me. Yes, Americans are met with official suspicion, our countries are virtually at war, but Iranians are quick to move beyond the official party line. Greg Crouch and I were staying in a hotel near Shahmirzad, intending to climb some of the nearby big walls. We got invited to a wedding going on in our hotel and were treated like honored, out of town guests.

No one could tell me if the bride and groom had met before, and the wedding itself was something of a mystery. Men danced on one floor while the women had their own celebration locked away on the floor above. I asked to see the women’s floor but was told we’d pushed our luck far enough.

Stephen Alvarez

Sewanee, TN

About the author

Stephen Alvarez is a photographer and frequent commentator on the role technology and photography play in our interconnected world. He is founder and director of the Ancient Art Archive (