In the summer of 2019, I filmed in the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. This territory is not on the world political maps, is a disputed republic and does not officially exist. The conflict that began between Armenia and Azerbaijan after the collapse of the USSR is still ongoing. I came here to shoot the European Football Championship among the unrecognized republics. As a former photojournalist in the post-war territories, I could not miss such an important event. For a new generation that was born here it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see any kind of international event on the streets of their cities.
I gathered local teens and made them my colleagues for the week of the football tournament. I took them to the stadium, taught them photography and working with people. I wanted them to have new skills but most of all I wanted them to remember this joyful event.

PLACE: Stepanakert, the capital of the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
PARTICIPANTS: teenagers, 15-19 years old. 
DURATION: 10 days 
COLLABORATION: TUMO Center for Creative Technologies


We only had one week to shoot this project. So, our first meeting became an acquaintance and the development of a filming plan. I brought football programs and stadium plans from the official press center for all the participants, made them press pass and received permission from the organizers to bring with me my students with cameras. Everything so that they immediately get used to the role of professional photographers.


We walked the city streets together and visited the stadium. At the stadium, my students were divided into groups and went to shoot on their own. I was filming my own materials for my editors. But every fifteen minutes I went to my teens, we discussed and corrected their shooting, examined the technical aspect. So the guys learned everything they needed in practice and immediately implement it: camera settings, communicating with people, looking for emotions. 

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This is how we spent the entire championship. Immediately after the end of the cup, the first thing I did was to select my photos and write texts for my work publications. I showed this process to the guys, and it became another educational class. It was important for me that the students went with me all the stages of my real workflow.


Then we started working with students' materials. They learned more about light, color and composition in the frame during the process of final images selection. Final stage of any project is very important - for us it was the printing of a photo exhibition. On our first meeting, I explained to my students that foreign photojournalists who came for the tournament will make the work based on the unstable political situation in the region. And that my students' works will show this event from the perspective of a person living "inside". Teens learned how to curate an exhibition and talk about their works and experiences. Some foreign photojournalists took my invitation and came for the opening. Their feedbacks and friendly communication with the guys was another important event during our workshop.




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