A group of friends in the hills above Tehran. Many (every single one I met) young Iranians feel deeply embarrassed by their government, and the way the nation is perceived abroad. Zac Clayton, a British cyclist who will finish a round-the-world cycle on March 23 described Iran as having the kindest people of any country he cycled through. “I found most Iranians — particularly the younger generation — to be very aware of the world around them… with a burning desire for the freedoms they feel they are being denied by an out of touch, ultra-conservative religious elite.”
Amos Chapple is a travel photographer who made the following pictures over the course of three visits to the Islamic Republic of Iran between December 2011 and January 2013. The New Zealand freelancer said he “was amazed by the difference in western perceptions of the country, and what I saw on the ground… I think because access for journalists is so difficult, people have a skewed image of what Iran is — the regime actually want to portray the country as a cauldron of anti-western sentiment so they syndicate news footage of chanting nutcases which is happily picked up by overseas networks. For ordinary Iranians though, the government is a constant embarrassment. In the time I spent there I never received anything but goodwill and decency, which stands in clear contrast to my experience in other middle eastern countries. I met an American special forces soldier in Kyrgyzstan last year who said when it comes to the Middle East, America has the wrong friends and the wrong enemies.” Below is a selection of Chapple’s recent photographs of Iran, captions provided by the photographer.