Expressing yourself is probably one of the most important things you can do in your life. Photography is magic. Since it started about 200 years ago it still hasn’t left us. Mediums like film and music owe a lot of their method to photography. For me personally, I love capturing moments, things that move, things that need to stand still to be more appreciated. To me photography is all about the details.
The creation of details that aren’t appreciated to their maximum potential at their very moment of existence. Things that need to live on passed their moment of occurrence. Things in need of being shared, remembered, or cherished. Photo is also about feeling; love, hate, passion, beauty, ignorance.
A picture is captured, but so much is remembered, and photography is the only art form that can gather so much detail from a single moment of what’s really there, the truth, and re-present it in such a reflective and clearly understood and digested form.
I started working with photography from the age of 17. I got into because of my passion for filmmaking, but the magic of it just stuck with me. I left it aside for a while, then in 2009, while I was a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, I picked it up again. Black and white photography is true magic in my opinion, because it never ceases to amaze me. Digital is fun, and you can do a lot with it, it really let’s you be as creative as possible, whereas with film you end trying to make the image come out before you think of experimentation.
The black and white photos you see below are from my time at Art Center. Two of them are from a series called Armerica: a documentary of Armenian-American immigrant businesses.
Sarkis Iknadossian immigrated to the United States from Aleppo, Syria with his wife in the late 1970’s. After opening a small convenient store in Montebello, California Sarkis was quickly shut down because of the opening of a 7/11 market across the street.
After re-establishing his family closer to the Armenian Community, in Glendale, Sarkis decided to open a household supply store in what is known today as Little Armenia, in Hollywood.
In addition to selling common household appliances, Sarkis also repairs kitchen and household electronics, such as vacuums, electric stoves, and toasters. Sarkis says that in recent years their business has once again fallen victim to competition coming from bigger stores and companies. Already past the age of retirement, Sarkis and his Wife continue to work despite their lack of energy to compete.
‘Round The Clock Cleaners
‘Round The Clock Cleaners has been owned and operated by the Kasparian family for over 20 years. The Kasparian’s immigrated the United States in the early 1980‘s, during the Lebanese Civil War. Their business became the very resource for their establishment in the United States. The location you see is currently managed by the Kasparian son, Johnny Kasparian. The family has also opened a few other locations that cater to various parts of the Pasadena and greater Los Angeles area.
Round the Clock
The Accordion Man was taken at the 3rd street promenade on a sunday evening. Summer of 2009.
The Accordian Man
In December of 2009 I ventured on to Armenia with the Birthright Armenia program. I spent most of my time there volunteering at Bars Media Documentary Film Studio and Manana Youth Center. Bars Media has been responsible for documentary films ranging in topics ranging from the Karapagh war, Tightrope Dancers in Armenia, and Donkeys in Lamu, Kenya. Their latest project The Last Tightrope Dancer in Armenia is what I worked on for the most part, translating dialogue for subtitles in English and promoting the film in the festival circuit.
Manana Youth Center is an after school center for kids in Yerevan that offers classes in Photography, Filmmaking, and Animation. I had a lot of fun working with them as a teachers assistant and helping out with whatever random tasks they needed.
Armenia was a great experience. I learned a lot from being around a completely different atmosphere for those 4 months. I took a lot of photos on my trip, but these two stuck out the most for me. One is probably very recognizable, the Mabib Babig statue in The Free Republic of Artsakh (Nogorno Kharapagh).
Mamig and Babig
The other is an old soviet car I would pass by on my way to the bus stop on a daily basis. I call that one A Daily Sight.
A Daily Sight.
Editor’s Note: High resolution print copies of the photos in this blog can be purchased from this author for $45. Mammig and Babig and a Daily Sight are available for $55 . For more information, visit Avo’s website at avojohn.com or email/call him at: firstname.lastname@example.org/818-251-6008. For more information about Birthright Armenia check out birthrightarmenia.org