In Iran, speaking English in public is done at one's own risk. After being overheard on the Tehran Metro, I became trapped by university students vying for my attention, inviting me to their family homes, smiling and thrusting phone numbers into my hands. I was enjoying it so much I missed my stop.
I traveled from Tehran to the Lut Desert (Dasht-e Lut) in Iran's Southeast. Hot desert wind whistled between rock towers, as I photographed the beauty and isolation of this remote salt desert.
In Esfahan, I was dwarfed by blue-tiled domes and minarets. New local friends showed me the best place to relax, cooling off beneath the arches of Khaju Bridge, as locals sang songs of life and of love.
In Shiraz, I felt a stirring from the lyrical flow of classical Persian at a recital beside the tomb of the poet Hafez – a book of whose poetry is said to be in every Iranian home.
These were all profound experiences that I did not expect to have in Iran.
One thing that my images can't convey is the musical soundtrack accompanying travel here. Persian music is, in turns, frenetic and heartrendingly beautiful. It blares from the speakers of shared taxis. It's turned on after dinner at the home of your host family. You are the guest and it's your honor to dance first. And dance alone you must.
Once back at home, these new rhythms and melodies resonated in my mind for many months – as did the people of this vast and complex land.