Life in Iran, beyond the headlines



President Obama on Thursday announced a “historic understanding” with Iran that he said would prevent that country from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Moments before the president spoke from the White House, top diplomatic officials in Lausanne, Switzerland, announced the framework for a final agreement on the future of the Iranian nuclear program. 

“It is a good deal,” Obama said, adding, “If this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies and our world safer.”

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Iran and six world powers, including the United States, have been negotiating since March 26 on the nuclear program, which Iran insists is peaceful. The six nations want see limits on the program, while Iran in exchange wants punishing economic sanctions to be lifted. 

International monitors will have “unprecedented access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities, Obama said. In exchange for Iran’s cooperation and adherence to a final agreement, the international community will lift some sanctions, the president added.

Thousands of miles away in Tehran, it remained to be seen how the deal would impact ordinary Iranians, who have lived for years under crippling economic sanctions.

Beyond the headlines and the complicated geopolitics, Iran is also a land of civilians. Every day, millions of people within the country’s borders clean their households, take care of their children, go to work, watch television, do the groceries, and perform the countless other mundane and extraordinary tasks which make up a life. That side of the country – unique in the particulars, but otherwise universal – is not one that Americans usually get to see. These photographs offer a window into Iranian ordinariness.

Ako Salemi is a street photographer based in Tehran, Iran. You can follow his daily posts on Instagram.

For more feature photography, go to

David Taintor, Erin McClam, and Ned Resnikoff contributed to this report.