A Conversation With Tara Tajdini

Introduce yourself!

Hi hello! My name is Taraneh, and I am a Southern California-based creative director and film photographer!

How did you get into photography?

I’ve always had a camera of some sorts by my side growing up.

It first started with my pink iPod nano, then my blue flip phone, and then slowly, I started sourcing professional cameras.

I would say I started to take photography seriously the moment I found my dream film camera in the back of my parents’ dusty cabinets while being a very nosy 15 years old!

How does it feel like to bring your artistic vision to life on set? What does the process look like?

It’s always a beautiful and irreplaceable feeling. To see my thoughts and ideas translated into something tangible, like a set or a photograph, is my favorite part of what I do. I definitely always prepare with a Pinterest or mood board of some kind, but the most important part of my creative process is the connection and raw emotion that comes to life in collaboration with an artist, model, or any crew member in general!

What are some of your favorite projects that you worked on? 

My favorite project by far has to be the “Hitlist” music video by Rehma that was directed by Priya Minhas!

We made this video in my room and backyard with an amazing team, filled with so many talented women. It was an incredibly empowering and bonding experience, considering we created it during the middle of the pandemic. The hard work everyone put into the project was inspiring and is a large part of why the music video is so beautiful and fun to watch!

I see that you work with Rehma; how has that been like? Any fun memories to share?

It truly is an honor to create alongside such a talented soul like Rehma. Her ideas are always inspiring and original, and it is very natural for us to create beautiful and inspiring work together. One of my favorite memories has to be an impromptu shoot we did at the beach and getting pulled over by a cop once we were heading out. We ended up getting banned from the beach, but at least we got this iconic picture from it!

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Why did you decide to create an Instagram account for pictures of Iran, and how has that been like for you? Do you feel more connected to your culture through this account?

Growing up in Orange County, I always felt like in order to assimilate into American culture, I had to hide my Persian side. This is an experience I’m sure many Iranian-Americans can resonate with. Unfortunately, that typically leads to a loss in any connection people have with their heritage.

I never wanted to lose that part of my identity, so creating an account dedicated to showcasing Iran through my eyes is just another effort I put into trying to intertwine both sides of my identity.

I have also gotten a lot of positive feedback from people expressing how my account allows them to feel deeply connected to their culture, which makes me very happy!

What is the best part of running your “iranonfilm” acount?

Allowing a part of me to be seen and appreciated that I tried to hide or diminish for a large portion of my adolescence has to be the best part of running my account. Also, creating an inclusive space for people to come to learn about a new culture or relieve a sense of nostalgia for back home through my pictures is always rewarding!

I see that you have been to Iran before to see your family—what has that been like? What is your favorite part of being there?

I highly recommend to any person who hasn’t visited their home country to do so at least once in their lifetime. With every trip I make to Iran, I come back home and reflect on how much personal growth I achieved in my 1-month endeavor.

My favorite part is following my cousins and aunts around the city of Tehran as they run their daily errands. To them, it is something routine, but for me, it is so nostalgic to walk the streets my parents and grandparents grew up in.

It really is the simplest of tasks I run in Tehran that gives me an irreplaceable sense of connectedness—like getting fresh barbari or sangak bread for breakfast from the local bakery.

As a Persian American, how does your identity coincide with your work? 

My identity can always be seen in my work—whether it’s an easter egg or an obvious prop like a Persian rug.

The Iranian influence in my life definitely gave me an upper hand when it comes to aesthetics, considering Iran has always been progressive in terms of its poetry, architecture, actors, and art in general. I think that is what makes my photos and sets so pleasing to look at.

Whether it is intentional or unintentional, I always find a way to integrate my Iranian influences within my more modern editorial shoots or sets! Iranian singers, actors, and creatives in general always have a very unique perspective that adds depth to whatever project, and that is so beautiful!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the creative industry? 

Never doubt your work or your talent. Also, don’t hide your art for the sole reason of embarrassment from what others might think of it. Instead, think of the positive impact you WILL have on people if you decide to share your work. You are important and what you create has meaning—never for 1 second doubt that!

What has been the biggest challenge to overcome when it comes to your work?

Putting myself out there was definitely the hardest part for me! It took me a long time to even introduce myself as a creative director or photographer because I thought I had to reach this huge milestone before I could adopt that title. 

Are there any other artists you would like to collaborate/ work with?

Harry Styles has to be my dream collaboration. Aside from being a fan, I deeply resonate with his words and his visuals. He also seems like a goofy and kind person, which is always the best energy to experience on set. Aside from that, I just hope I get to work with as many talented and genuine people as I can in this life! Status is definitely not an indicator of talent, so that will never be a meaningful factor in terms of who I want to work with 🙂

Where do you see yourself in the future? Any future projects we can expect from you? 

Hopefully, I will be mindfully creating art and not just “quick” content with no meaning. I’m always updating my Instagram with my favorite projects, so definitely give @plainntart a peek for some aesthetically pleasing photographs!

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

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