07:29 My alarm is ringing. At some point I decided to only use uneven numbers like 7:29 or 8:01 to make life funnier. I get up, turn my phone on and pick a spot for my 5min daily exercise. Can range from bathroom, balcony to anywhere. With some background fitness beats I am jumping stars, do bridges and squats. For triceps exercises I use bottles, fruits or plants.
8:15 Breakfast time: Lentil soup, bread, tomatoes, cucumber, eggs, honey, cheese and halva aka pistachio sesame paste.
9:00 We pack up our what feels like 43 bags and single pieces of camera equipment and head to our car. If we are lucky we don’t have to as we stayed at the shooting site.
9:30 We have our second round of black tea after arriving at the house and while chatting with its owner.
10:00 The actual shooting starts. We walk through the entire space and I write a list of the pictures we need to take and the details we shouldn’t forget. Depending on the house and its style we have to rearrange and clean a room a lot or almost not at all. Most of the times we have to empty it to create space between things, furniture or design objects shouldn’t blur too much into each other. You can’t imagine how much I hate tissue boxes now after cleaning ten houses of them.
10:30 We now developed kind of a work routine. I first clear up a room, meaning I move tables, put vases in place, get some plants, flowers and fruits. I smoothen bed linings and pull carpets into the right shape. Then we start with one angle. Hamed, the photographer suggests what to take away or add to the image. He takes a picture, we check how the room looks through the eye of the camera. Because a so so room can turn into something gorgeous. You won’t believe how often reality is miles away from the photo or the other way round.
I never had styled rooms before professionally but with the help of Hamed I now know the tricks to make a room look more lively and warm: Using flowers, headscarves or shoes to make a place like someone just left the room. Creating comfort and authenticity. And that if you have a nice porcelain bowl but too few apples, you just place a mobile phone underneath them. Just learned that one today thanks to Hamed!
Whereas styling a room is something you kind of do when decorating your own house I had no clue about lightening and frames before we started. In the first days I dreamt almost every night of our reflector, detail shots, medium shots and long shots. Meaning you shed more light onto an area, take a picture of an entire room, then part of it and then of a detail. After some houses you scan a room automatically in this way and even when walking in the city I adopted a frame-viewing-look.
14:00 If we are lucky we now do a lunch break. But 90% of the time we don’t. We just drink a lot of black tea. And continue our journey through the house. That’s because I literally forget about eating and because we shoot most houses in ONE day. Still feeling sorry for the guys and promising I will improve.
16:00 The sun will soon go down. Time for the interview with the owner of the house, now the light is warm and cozy. Hamid, the filmmaker gets ready and me too. He has followed us already the entire day, me making his work really hard as I am moving so quickly. But he pays it back: Hamid has a talent for being within a frame while he should be outside. If it’s not himself, it’s his camera, bag or shadow. A look by Hamed, the photographer is now already enough to make the situation clear.
The spot Hamid chooses for the interview is often outside. Iranian houses have this fine architectural quality of yards and gardens. For me this means freezing in my coat and headscarve as the temperature drops to around 5°C at this time.
But worse than that my Farsi vocabulary has reduced to 20% of the normal level. I am tired from too little sleep, work and speaking a foreign language 24/7. But I consider my weakness as part of the documentary. Still we are talking about moving the talk to the morning to save everyone from my riddle speaking.
17:00 Sunset, which means the last shots for us. Time to leave and pack up.
18:00 After putting the 43 bags and single pieces of camera equipment back into the car we are all starving. Now follows the first proper food of the day after breakfast. We head for a kebab, sandwich or just something close by.
20:00 With full stomachs we drive back to our accommodation. Ordering a black tea or brewing our own espresso with a moka pot over a camping flame, we gather in the hotel room and warm up. Pictures and video material of the day has to be transferred to laptops and hard drives. Time for the machines to work and for us to relax and talk.
22:00 Flickering through the pictures determines if it was a good or a bad day. So far and especially because of Hamed, the photographer we only had good ones.
23:30 At least one of us is now getting tired. Work and our speed is taking it’s toll.
03:00 By now even the last person went to bed. Awaiting a new day of sleep deprivation but full of laughter, beautiful houses and interesting stories. And 43 bags and single pieces of camera equipment to be taken to the car.