Iranian photographer Mehran Naghshbandi has a minimalist approach to nature

Moody photographs and magic in the air are the conjuring tricks of Iranian photographer Mehran Naghshbandi, the ’90s-born photographer who spent his formative years surrounded by the Zagros mountains. Nature has clearly left Her mark. In his most recent series, Echoes of Light, Mehran’s captivating shots of shorelines immerse us in a silvery wash of long-exposure waves and a lowering, cloudy horizon.

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The photographs are characterised by his signature sombre, moody colour palette. Dark greys and blacks capture nature in dreamlike and mysterious hues. The swirling shades create a sense of other worldliness and intrigue. As in much of his work, the photographs feel like only half of the story, always posing questions and baiting his audience to fill in the answers.

We spoke to Mehran about his enigmatic search for inspiration all around us.

TP: What is it about landscapes that you find so compelling?
MN: For me it’s more about life in general and my appreciation of it, and there are two reasons for this. The first is deeply rooted in my understanding of our species’ history. I do think that we have a banal existence, and that our concerns are futile and narcissistic. We need to relearn that we’re a part of nature and not separate from it, or we’re going to destroy ourselves and life on this planet.

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TP: And the second reason?
MN: The second reason is that I don’t feel like I belong to this kind of society. Or, at least, I’m trying to exclude myself from it. The only place where I can understand myself, as I actually am, is nature.

TP: The colours in your photography are rather sombre and unsaturated – why is this?
MN:
I think that’s the state we’re in with the natural world. Sombre? Yes! The main idea with the unsaturated colours is to give the same importance to almost every part of the picture.

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TP: What is it about Iranian nature that appeals? Have you shot your landscapes anywhere else?
MN:
No, I have never been out of Iran. Everyone thinks of Iran as a dry and desert-like place, but this country has a lot to offer. The variety in Iranian landscape is a remarkable thing, which unfortunately is accompanied by destruction in most parts.

TP: Would you ever venture into portrait photography?
MN:
I try to avoid taking pictures with humans, because I think humans are imperfect – unlike nature. When I do, it’s to illustrate either nature’s power or humanity-led destruction.

TP: What’s next for you?
MN:
After living in the North of Iran for 5 years, I moved to Tehran, which was a mistake. I’ve decided to go back north for some months and work on my projects.

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