Photo Exhibit Depicts Personal Stories of Tumo Youth

Photographer Scout Tufankjian rejoices with students at the opening of a special exhibit at Tumo showcasing the work of her and Eric Grigorian's photojournalism students.

YEREVAN–Having recently wrapped up a four-week, intensive workshop with two highly acclaimed Armenian-American photojournalists, students at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies publicly unveiled their photos in a special exhibition this past Saturday.

A total of 43 participants in workshops led by award-winning photographers Scout Tufankjian and Eric Grigorian were on hand to showcase their stories and speak with a capacity crowd at the opening of the exhibit. The photos will be on display at Tumo until July 6th and are open for public viewing.

“So much about photography is how you see and about learning to see things in a new way,” explained Tufankjian as she reflected on her experience working with the students over the past month. “I think the most important thing to take away is how interesting the world is and how you can see the world in different ways.”

Both Grigorian and Tufankjian are accomplished photojournalists whose work has been featured in such journals as the Boston Globe, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, and Le Monde. They took a break this spring from their regular stints documenting global affairs and political leaders to—for the first time—work with teenagers in Armenia.

After covering some basic fundamentals of photography, they introduced the students to the art and technique of photo storytelling, encouraging them to explore their world through the power of a lens.

“I began thinking much more in-depth about how to present images as beautifully as possible,” says Anahit Talasyan about her experience in Tufankjian’s workshop. “I learned how to use the camera as a conduit between the eye and the object.”

Inesa Yolyan, a 17-year-old student from Grigorian’s class adds that, “The workshop wasn’t simply about snapping photos. We had to understand the technical parameters we were working in and develop a theme to tell a compelling story around.”

The range of topics covered by the teenagers’ photo stories included everything from the frustrated expressions of people waiting at bus stops to theater and church attendance.

“I definitely saw a huge improvement in all of them over the few weeks we had together,” stated Grigorian. “Once they saw that they were getting better, I saw that they wanted to be more involved and were more excited about their work.”

Tufankjian was equally impressed with her students’ progress, adding that, “The thing which has been most amazing for me is every single one of them has gotten better. Whether they started from having never picked up a camera before or being extremely experienced, every single one of them has gotten better.”

This marked improvement in output transformed what was initially slated to be a modest final presentation into a special multimedia exhibit which was opened up for Tumo guests and visitors.

Print outs from each of the students were featured on the installation wall, while projections of selected photo stories are displayed on LCD screens affixed to the ground.

The exhibition will be open for the public to view every day from 12 pm to 3 pm until July 6th.

Both Grigorian and Tufankjian hope to return to Armenia in the near future and continue sharing their photography workshops with both current and future students at Tumo.

The TUMO Center for Creative Technologies is a unique digital media resource center in the heart of Yerevan, Armenia. Since its opening in 2011, the center has provided thousands of students aged 12-18 an open environment where they can utilize the latest in digital communications, learn from media professionals, and explore the intersection of art and technology.

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