An Iranian women walks through a haze of smoke caused by the burning of 'esfand', a herb. According to popular belief this drives away the evil eye.
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An Iranian woman walks through a haze of smoke caused by the burning of the herb esfand. According to popular belief, this ritual drives away the evil eye.Newsha Tavakolian—Magnum for TIME
An Iranian women walks through a haze of smoke caused by the burning of 'esfand', a herb. According to popular belief this drives away the evil eye.
A battalion of members of the Iranian paramilitary Baseej force participate in a reenactment of the Iran-Iraq (1980-1988) war in the South of Tehran.
A battalion of members of the Iranian paramilitary Baseej force pose for a picture with a high revolutionary Guards Corps General, after having participated in a reenactment of the Iran-Iraq (1980-1988) war in the South of Tehran.
A portrait of the late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Khomeini at an empty parking lot.
A stand in Tehran's Boostan park commemorating female martyrs who died during the revolution of 1979 and the war.
A group of men is dancing at a wedding in an illegal - but tolerated - wedding hall in Karaj, a satellite town of the capital.
Iranian women lighting candles to commemorate the death of the 3rd and most revered Shiite Imam, Hossein, who people view as a saint here. During ten days of mourning his violent death on the plains of Kerbala in current day Iraq is remembered. In Tehran people go out at dusk to light candles at what they say is the time of his death.
A young man in a car sitting next to his mother, in Iran the use of headsets and mobile phones is wide spread.
A young couple coming back from the mountains, stopping over at the shrine ( Imamzadeh Saleh)  at Tehran's most Northern square, Tajrish.
A young Iranian girl at an amusement park beside the new artificial lake dubbed Persian Gulf of Martyrs on Tehran’s west side
Arash Fayazi in the pool of the Royal Oxygen sports club, Fazeli is a body building champion and works out here most of the time.
Salar Bil a fashion designer here is surrounded by his models on a Friday right before a show. Bil is one of Tehran's upcoming young designers. recently the ministry of Guidance and culture allowed fashion shows and Bil, like others is taking his opportunity.
Sahar Khalkhalian a painter finishing an artwork days before she has a solo exhibition at Tehran's Shirin art gallery, that also has a branch in New York.
View of Tehran, October 29, 2015.
Iranian women beating their chests to commemorate the death of the 3rd and most revered Shiite Imam, Hossein, who people view as a saint here. During ten days of mourning his violent death on the plains of Kerbala in current day Iraq is remembered. Here the women have gathered at a makeshift tent in western Tehran, listening to a female religious chanter.
Iranian women listening a religious speech in a mosque commemorating the death of the 3rd and most revered Shiite Imam, Hossein, who people view as a saint here. During ten days of mourning his violent death on the plains of Kerbala in current day Iraq is remembered.
A man sleeping on a bench in Tehran's domestic Mehrabad airport. Iran is in dire need of new planes following years of limitations on buying planes.
View of Tehran, of the Shahrak-e Gharb neighbourhood in the west of the city.
Three men standing next to a fire at a construction site in Tehran.
A boy posing for his father in front of a missile displayed in Tehran's Southern Baharestan square. The display is a part of the 'Holy Defence week' a peroid to commemorate the Iran-Iraq war.
An Iranian woman walks through a haze of smoke caused by the burning of the herb esfand. According to popular belief, th
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Newsha Tavakolian—Magnum for TIME
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See Iran Coming Out of the Shadows

Nov 05, 2015

At Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, the government office in charge of accrediting foreign reporters, there is a particular enthusiasm for first-timers.

A journalist who has never actually visited Iran before tends to be wowed by the experience. "It's not like I expected," they say, a sentiment that naturally is reflected in their dispatches.

On my 11th visit I thought I was beyond that sort of thing. Then I took my first trip on Tehran's subway. It was like visiting Scandinavia: ­sleek, quiet, and boring in a reassuring way, a world away from the
capital's cityscape. Both things are true, of course: The gritty streets familiar from Argo, and the network of brightly lit tunnels that undermine every assumption about the Iran.

It's not contradiction so much as counterpoint, and Newsha Tavakolian manages to do the same thing with her camera. She has worked as a photojournalist and as an artist, and you need to be both to capture the subtle dynamics in her home country right now. At the very moment that the Islamic Republic has made a deal on its nuclear program with the U.S. and other world powers, it has also struck a bargain with its own people: Leave politics entirely to us, and you'll be left alone to live your lives more or less as you wish.

Iran 2025 Time Magazine Cover Photograph by Newsha Tavakolian—Magnum for TIME  

It's a trade-off most Iranians appear to be fine with for now, especially when other states in the region have descended into chaos following popular uprisings. But it's not as though the people are holding still. As the sanctions come off and the world prepares to beat a path to their door, ordinary Iranians are eager to come out of the shadow of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and meet them, finally proceeding with lives that strike a Western visitor as both familiar, and like no where else.

Newsha Tavakolian is an Iranian freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Iran. She is a nominee member of Magnum Photos. Her work focuses mostly on women's issues.

Alice Gabriner, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s International Photo Editor.

Karl Vick is a TIME correspondent based in New York. From 2010 to the autumn of 2014, he was the Jerusalem Bureau Chief.

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