The History of Armenian Photography
From the 1950s until we emigrated to Canada in 1975, my father was a studio photographer in Aleppo, Syria. Armenians dominated studio photography in Aleppo from the beginning and it wasn’t until the 1960s that things began to change as photography became cheap and easily accessible to new photographers of different ethnic groups. When my family moved I was only two and my dad left his photo archive back in Aleppo. We have no idea where it is or if it still exists in some basement. His atelier was called Studio SAMO.
The first historic Armenian photograph I bought was probably in the year 2000 and I discovered the piece on eBay. It was a strangely beautiful image of a married Armenian Apostolic deacon and his family, and it was by K.S. Melikian of Worcester, Massachusetts. I’m guessing it was taken in the 1920s or 30s. I lived with that image for years — both in my office and at home — and the personal relationship with it was what inspired me to buy more.
My collection has roughly 300 original photographs dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, including photos by Abdullah Frères, Gabriel Lekegian, Pascal Sébah, G. Krikorian, Z. G. Donatosian, Bogos Tarkulyan, Sarkis M., Aram Alban, Onnes Kurkdjian, S. Vartanian, Hadjolian Frères, Van Leo, Armand, Garo, Ida Kar, Studio Samo, Studio Haig, Gariné Torossian, and Aram Jibilian.