5 posts tagged Karen Mirzoyan
On November 29th, Karen Mirzoyan’s photo exhibit Rock the Casbah-Basement Bands in Tehran opened at The Half King in NYC. This show emerged from a story Karen shot about the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution in February, 2010. On assignment for Russian Reporter magazine, he knew he did not want to shoot a straight journalism piece. Instead he gravitated toward the underground rock/metal scene. The resulting images are an impressionistic image mix—of the statecraft being cooked up on TV that week, of ordinary citizens going about their lives, and of young men trying to play music as loudly and secretly as possible.
Images in the show and Karen’s thinking about how to approach the story can be read here. But below is a little bit more about his start in photography and helpful influences.
I studied linguistics at university, and it was very boring for me—I needed to do something else. I found a camera at home, a snapshot camera, and started traveling in Armenia. I tried to understand how the camera works, but wasn’t studying photography anywhere yet. This was in 1999 and it was a very hard time: It was always question of whether to buy one bread or one film. I lived with my mother at this time.
When I was a kid, I always watched how my mother took pictures of things that I didn’t understand. Why windows, old doors, walls? It was not interesting for me. Years later, when I started to shoot, I realized that that was my first class in photography. :)
At this time in Armenia we had I think one magazine, where I dreamed of working: Armenian International Magazine. AIM was published in LA, but they had office in Armenia too. In 2003 I became head photographer at AIM. My first dream came true!
Study & inspiration
I studied at the Caucasus Institute in 2004, and did nine months of World Press Photo seminars, and I really understood from that time where I wanted to go. World Press Photo had a very good library of photo books, and also during the classes two or three times they sent us Paul Lowe from Panos Pictures to read lectures, and I think Paul’s lectures and the library showed me the way and taught me about photojournalism. Then, in 2010 it was Fred Ritchin from PixelPress and NYU , and Susan Meiselas from Magnum Foundation.
A lot of people at this time inspired me like, again Paul, Claudia from Noor and Maartin from World press photo, Liza Faktor from Objective Reality, Andrei Polikanov from Russian Reporter, James Wellford from Newsweek and Anya Shpakova from Ogonyok, these people were always like close friends.
In every period of my career, there are always people who are inspiring me and helping me go to the next level.
On the horizon
I want to go back to Iran next year to expand my story about what it’s like there. My next project I’ll finish in January 2012. It’s a personal project that I’ve been shooting for almost two years, and it will have a very complex structure like my previous one about the Caucasus. It will be in five or six parts, and in different formats, with 50% in Polaroids. Plus I have my ongoing work—“Unrecognized Countries of Caucasus,” “Outsiders,” and “Underground Culture” in Belarus.