(Photo: Masoud)


Raffi Avanessian

Iranian Photographer
Raffi Avanessian
Born in 1968, Tehran
Member of Caroun Photo Club (CPC)

I began photography in 1985, the day which I bought my first camera.
At first I was taking photos from everything and everywhere I went I had my camera with me. Gradually I put the Armenian cemetery in my photo-program and started to feel that the Armenian cemetery can be a proper place for photography. I went there approximately once a week. And now that I am writing these lines, it passes 14 years that I fixed my camera at this place and still I feel that there are many things which have not been said and many photos which have not been taken.

The relation between death and life –and philosophical and ethical beings, have always been my favorite subjects, therefore when in my mind I return 14 years ago when I started taking photos from cemetery, I had the idea of the antithesis of death and life in my mind. With this belief that we should pay attention to life after death and not only stick to this life because the essence of life is in heaven.

But after seven or eight years when I started photography I felt that I am interested more in this life, and I was thinking that good and evil of our lives are in this life.
But now I came to this belief that death and life are not against each other but they are equal and complete each other, because without thinking on death we cannot think on life. In fact death and dying is a divine wisdom and with dying man finds his real human place in creation. Let’s think we had never died, in the case whether, ideas of serving, love, eternity, sacrifice, and.. could do our high values?

Therefore death and life like day and night are completing each other.
During these years I had learn a lot from cemetery, in fact the method of my photography is method which the cemetery has taught me – the method which in it changing and unchanging beings have the main rule.
Unchanged things are the stone-graves and changing beings are people and natural elements.

People like children, woman, priests, soldier, old people, stoneworker, grave-digger and natural elements like wind, rain, clouds, thundering, the sun… each in relation with the grave-stones has his own philosophical meaning.

This book is the choice of about 5000 frames, of course in professional grade taking 5000 frame during 14 years it doesn’t seem too much, but also we must keep in mind that in order that the cemetery to show the secret of his mystery has his own time, for this reason during these years it happened that I went the cemetery taking without any pictures.

Often I take pictures in cloudy weather, because the light of cloudy weather creates special spiritual atmosphere, therefore it is proper to use 400 ISO film in this situation.
In taking pictures from mankind I use telephoto lens in high speed, but in special times using 25 ISO film in low speed gives better results.

For natural elements I use wide angle lens which I explained some of the technological details below the pictures.
Usually for the lack of time and in order not to miss the subject, I use two cameras which each one has different lens.
I do all of my the printings and developing and usually I use high contrast developer in order to compensate the low contrast of cloudy weather, and when I take photo in sunlight I use soft developer, of course we must keep in mind that choosing the right film also has own importance.



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