Gyumri is an ancient town with a history of three millennia. In 1988, it was almost destroyed by an earthquake. Since then, every family has its own sad story.
My students from Gyumri wanted to learn how to work with people through portraits. I believe that every useful skill should be passed down in conjunction with new personal experience. This way the knowledge can be better assimilated and applied. I had to understand what worries these teens the most today. The project we will be working on should bring them closer together and make them bolder. My students admitted that they know a lot about the history of their town and architectural monuments, but only in words. This generation was born after the earthquake and the reconstruction is still ongoing. I suggested us to fix it and look at the official photo archive with old images, but it turned out that it did not survive either. The next two weeks we spent starting a new photo archive.

LOCATION: Gyumri, Armenia
PARTICIPANTS: teenagers, 15-18 years old
COLLABORATION: TUMO Center for Creative Technologies

 


When a piece of the history of the hometown falls out for an entire generation, it becomes difficult to find support in the past. By our second meeting, the guys had to collect old family photographs taken before 1988 from all the familiar houses in the city. We had a huge collection of photographs in our hands, which we scanned into electronic format and handed over to a local organization. Now young people have a starting point and an archive that can be updated all the time. We also selected the most interesting and strange, in our opinion, photos and reshot them. So the students learned how to take portraits of any complexity, look for locations and feel free to walk around their town with a cameras.

 

 


During each shooting, the guys becoming either heroes from old images, or a filming crew. They learned to work with people in the frame, to find the costumes and work on both sides of the camera.

 

 


 

 


 

 


In addition to visual information, each photo told a special story about the place or people. For example, this wedding photograph turned out to be the only portrait of one of the students' great-grandmother. Naturally, this very student became the heroine of the new shooting.

 

 


Sometimes we had to look for stage props all over the city, like this bus that was kept for scrap metal.

 

 


The final presentation of the works was attended by those who gave their photos for the new archive and even strangers who've seen our shooting on the streets. This time, both the older and younger generations talked about the past and the present on a par and with equal interest.

 


 

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