‘It was strange – a girl without a hijab at an ancient religious ceremony’: Mohammad Nazari’s best phone picture

<span>Look, 2019, shot on iPhone 6s.</span><span>Photograph: Mohammd Nazarii</span>
Look, 2019, shot on iPhone 6s.Photograph: Mohammd Nazarii

Iranian photographer Mohammad Nazari was in a bus station when he took this shot. “I was just leaving a religious ceremony in Zanjan, which is near the capital of Tehran, when I happened upon this scene completely by chance,” he says. “The glass of the bus station separated these two young girls – one with her hand outstretched and placed on the glass, the other turning to look at her. The presence of a girl without a hijab in a crowd at an ancient religious ceremony created an interesting contrast. The feeling I get from this photo is very strange.”

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Nazari took the photograph on a mobile phone not out of choice but out of necessity. “My country is facing very high inflation, and cameras are very expensive, so it’s practically impossible for independent photographers like me to buy one,” he says. He instead relies on mobile phones, adding that because this model didn’t have a good enough zoom function, he had to get in close to his subects. He later applied some minor edits to the contrast and saturation.

While Nazari describes his image as falling within the social documentary genre, it predates the 2022 protests over compulsory hijabs sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini. “I would like others to see this photograph not just as political,” Nazari says, “but as art, too.”