With little knowledge of the language and a lot of uncertainties about the country, Bijan Roghanchi, a 25-year-old photographer, packed his bags for Iran.
Born to an Iranian father and an American mother, he grew up in New Jersey — far from Iran a land he needed to come clean with. In 2011, he decided to travel to Iran for the first time to ask of himself and the country what it meant for him to be an Iranian; to explore the other half and to bring the Iranian-American culture together.
“I wanted to develop a genetic identity and in order to do that, you need to have basic immersion and then you need to have some sort of perspective to take everything else in,” Roghanchi said.
The project, “Becoming Iranian,” is the product of two and a half years spent traveling and photographing across the country. It’s a book of 71 photographs that follows Roghanchi along his journey. But perhaps what sets this book apart from others is the unique story behind each picture and essay.
“I want these images to be out there, but not in an empty context,” he said. “It’s not about having a singular image of Iran but rather a story.”
“Becoming Iranian” allows the reader to page through the stories and make their own opinion. Roghanchi, who now speaks Farsi fluently, is in the process of publishing the book, hoping to shed some light on stereotypes portrayed by the media and to simply share his raw experience and journey with whomever is up for the ride.
There’s an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to publish the book through Oct. 24 at www.becomingiranian.com