Photographer Samuel Zuder journeys to Tehran and beyond—and finds the hospitality not just warm but downright humbling.
On a four-week trip, Zuder found that Iranians were happy to welcome him into a world that exists outside the strict rules that govern public life. “Iranians, especially the younger generation, are very well educated and excited about discussing politics and culture with foreigners—especially Westerners,” Zuder says. “Every day, someone new invited me into their home to share a meal, or offered to show me around.”
“We in the West only see the headlines, but beneath the surface is a world waiting to be explored.”
One day, while he was shooting in Tehran, a young man and two young women—all students—approached Zuder and invited him for a drive around the city. Twice, they were stopped by the secret police. The first time, Zuder was accused of giving the women cigarettes, and was asked to leave the car and to stop taking pictures. The second time, after being stopped in a public park, “The students argued with the police officer,” Zuder says. “In fact, everyone defended me. An elderly woman sitting on the grass with her granddaughter even asked me to take her photo as a gesture of support.”