First Images

By Tom Erikson

I have gone on taking many photographs just for myself. Sometimes I sell them and a lot of times I don’t, but I take the pictures that I think should be taken and I try to do as good a job taking them as I can. As of this writing the last assignment I gave myself was to document the San Francisco visit of Iranian author and university professor Azar Nafisi. We had just discussed her moving new book, Reading Lolita In Tehran, in my book group and by coincidence there was a reading and book signing in town the next day. At the event’s end I made some portraits, and then the small group of Iranian ex-patriots who had lingered after all the books were signed invited me to join them for a drink.

We retired to a small Irish bar for cocktails and conversation, continuing late into the evening, by which point all of us were up dancing to the jukebox. Professor Nafisi and I continued the conversation when I met up with her the next morning to make a few portraits in natural light. It gave me pause to think that everything we’d been doing the night before, the political discussion, the drinking, the dancing, and the flirting, was illegal in Iran. It could have warranted a death sentence or a life of torture in jail.