Tag Archives: armenia

Photography Rules

Essential Dos and Don’ts from Great Photographers

Photography Rules, Essential Dos and Don’ts from Great Photographers
is a new book by Dr Paul Lowe. To say that I’m delighted to be part of this amazing book would be putting it extremely mildly! I’m humbled to be in such great company and touched by Paul’s kind invitation to be part of this wonderful project. Sharing pages with one’s own inspirations and heroes in photography is quite literally, awesome.

Photography Rules; Essential Dos and Don’ts from Great Photographers. A book on photography by Paul Lowe, featuring the work and advice by 177 photographers, including Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Brassaï, Eve Arnold, Elliott Erwitt, Annie Leibovitz, David Hockney, Don McCullin, Nadar, Irving Penn, Chris Steele-Perkins, Sebastião Salgado, W. Eugene Smith, Garry Winogrand and Edmond Terakopian. London, UK. August 05, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

As photographers, we all consciously or more often, sub-counciously form our own philosophies and rules. Be these ethical, compositional, a work ethic or technical. Ways of approaching life, interacting with people, the technical aspects of photography or camera techniques that serve us well.

This fascinating insight from some of the most amazing photographers, stretching back to greats like Ansel Adams or Richard Avedon, Brassai to Bresson, is not only interesting but thought provoking, enlightening and inspirational.

As Paul Lowe writes, “The book is not a systematic ‘how to’ guide to photography but it does have a reasonably logical progression of entries, organised into three main categories of rules: ‘Making Photographs’, ‘Being a Photographer’ and ‘Professional Practice’. These follow the journey of the photographic process from even before the image is made through to building a long- term corpus of work to its distribution to the world. Individual genres and approaches to photography are interspersed throughout, covering fields such as portraiture, documentary and photojournalism, landscape and commercial photography.”

This book is going to appeal to an extremely wide range of photographers; seasoned professionals to those who are at the start of their journey in photography. Not only do I see this as becoming essential reading for every student in photography, but also for photography enthusiasts and amateur photographers who want to get an insight into the thought process of the authors behind some of the images they admire.

My own contribution, is about my personal approach to photojournalism, the ethics I live by and is listed in the ‘Being a Photographer’ section of the book. The beginning of the text reads, “The award-winning photojournalist Edmond Terakopian reminds us that, when documenting other people’s lives, especially in situations of distress, ‘it’s not your story, it belongs to your subject. You must never forget that.’”

Photography Rules; Essential Dos and Don’ts from Great Photographers. A book on photography by Paul Lowe, featuring the work and advice by 177 photographers, including Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Brassaï, Eve Arnold, Elliott Erwitt, Annie Leibovitz, David Hockney, Don McCullin, Nadar, Irving Penn, Chris Steele-Perkins, Sebastião Salgado, W. Eugene Smith, Garry Winogrand and Edmond Terakopian. London, UK. August 05, 2020. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

It accompanies my photograph documenting life, 10 years on from the devastating earthquake that struck Armenia. “A Woman Prays in an Armenian Church in Gyumri, for the Souls of Those Who Died in the Armenian Earthquake, 1988.”

Edmond Terakopian. London, UK.

The photograph from Gyumri was shot on a Leica M6 with a Leica 35mm Summicron, using Kodak Ektachrome slide film.

Photography Rules, Essential Dos and Don’ts from Great Photographers is out now and alongside good bookshops, is also available online from Amazon.

Biography: Dr. Paul Lowe is a Reader in Documentary Photography and the Course Leader of the Masters programme in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, UK. Paul is an award-winning photographer, whose work is represented by VII Photos, and who has been published in Time, Newsweek, Life, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer and The Independent amongst others. He has covered breaking news the world over, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela’s release, famine in Africa, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and the destruction of Grozny.

The Armenian Earthquake; 25 Years On

In Memory Of the 25,000 Who Lost Their Lives

10 years on from the Armenian earthquake. A woman prays for the souls of the dead in a Gyumri church. 6 December 1998, Gyumri, Armenia. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

10 years on from the Armenian earthquake. A woman prays for the souls of the dead in a Gyumri church. 6 December 1998, Gyumri, Armenia. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

In 1998 I made two trips to Armenia to work on a story about ten years after the earthquake that destroyed the northern city of Spitak and devastated Gyumri. It was the most moving experience I’ve had as a photojournalist; listening to people’s stores and seeing the suffering etched across their faces and causing tremors in their voices only gave me a slight understanding of the trauma caused.

According to official figures, the disaster claimed 25,000 lives, 19,000 people became disabled, and 530,000 residents were left homeless.

Sadly the trauma continues for many as  people are still having to live in sheds that were put up 25 years ago as temporary shelter. Keeping in mind that in the winter temperatures drop to minus 25 degrees centigrade, one can begin to appreciate the hardship.

Here are some words I wrote for the 10th anniversary of this dark day:

Today (December 7, 1998) marks the tenth anniversary of the Armenian

earthquake, which killed over 25,000. 10 years have passed since the

ground was shaken, and buildings were flattened by the 6.9 richter

scale measurement. 10 years have passed since the clock reached 11.41

am, and many children lost their short lives, trapped inside their

fallen schools.

When one travels through the two main cities in the earthquake region,

Gyumri and Spitak avoiding all the potholes in the streets and

pavements, one doesn’t see what is expected after 10 years of

reconstruction. In fact, there hasn’t been 10 years of reconstruction.

Several factors played a major part in the reconstruction not finishing.

Mainly the Soviet Union broke up, and as a result, the construction

companies left with their workers, as there was no more funding. Behind

them they left building sites, which have now become the graveyards of

the cranes which were erected there to bring life back to the buildings

of the towns.

Other factors, almost equally as important, were the Karabakh struggle

and the blockade of the country by Turkey. On top of these major

difficulties, Armenia gained its independence, which brought with it all

the associated problems.

There is a national holiday today, and the population remembers one of

its darkest days. Almost everyone in one way or another, was affected by

the earthquake. Everyone in the region lost members of their family.

Those further away from Gyumri and Spitak, left their families and

homes, and rushed to the aid of those hit by the earthquake. “It was a

site that I would never imagine possible”, said Samvel Nazarian.

“Everywhere you looked, there was something aweful going on. Bits of

bodies sticking out from the underneath of rubble. The sound of constant

crying. Screaming from every direction. People trying to find their

children. Children trying to find their parents. Folk not believing that

the dead family member in front of them has actually died”. “Even the

most horrible horror film had not prepared me for such sites”. On the

whole though, most people don’t want to remember those days, and

emotions.

A very large number of people lost their limbs in the earthquake. To

highlight their plight, 25 year old Nshan Basmajian, a double leg

amputee and President of the ‘All Armenian Young Disabled Foundation –

Havatamk’, walked all the way from Yerevan to Gyumri, a journey of over

130km. “I lost my legs in an accident. I was a burden on my parents as I

couldn’t do anything for myself. One day I felt god come to me and give

me the energy and will to walk again. From this day, I started walking;

first with great difficulty, but later, with practice I would increase

the distance, inspired by stories of people overcoming huge obstacles;

mountain climbers and other adventureres. I started walking great

distances, from one town to another to raise awareness for other

disabled people, and to motivate people like myself, that they can help

themselves. I am walking to Gyumri so people will pay attention to the

difficulties faced by the disabled in the region”.

On his way to Gyumri, he stopped off at Mastara village, for the opening

and blessing of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the earthquake.

The memorial is called “Veradzenound” – meaning Renaissance or re-birth.

People from Gyumri, 20km away, came to the ceremony, many kissing it and

shedding tears as they went on. two priests from the local churchs

performed a blessing ceremony.Part of this ceremony consisted of two

girls, robed in white and statuesque in their stance, releasing two

doves. The symbolism being that the souls of the dead were being set

free. Sadly, one of these doves flew upwards for a short distance and

dropped dead at the feet of its caped liberator.

The Soul of Photography

Interview On Armenia’s Civilnet

I had the honour of being interviewed on Armenia’s Civilnet on my career as a photographer.