Haik Kocharian is from Armenia. He graduated from the Armenian Theater Academy in 1994 and moved to New York where he became a photojournalist.
Inspired by the dynamics of New York city, Kocharian developed his style over the next ten years, contrasting the relationship between a subject and his or her environment.
After graduating from Brooklyn College’s Photography and Film programs, he began working as a professional fine art photographer.
Kocharian has participated in numerous charity auctions, donating his photography to good causes, and has won a number of awards for his photos, including being a finalist in the Smithsonian Magazine Annual Photo Competition.
He currently lives and works in New York City. In addition to being a photographer, Kocharian is also a singer/songwriter and filmmaker.
His exhibit, A Single Moment, ran through the month of December at Appel Gallery, but Steve Appel, the gallery owner, will still show the photos if asked. The gallery is based on the idea that "Our life is nothing more than an accumulation of countless moments." Kocharian’s personal website attached at the bottom of this article also displays his photos. His short film "Charlie" was aired on PBS last July and his album "Heaven" was released in 2007, now available on iTunes.
I asked Kocharian about his life, his art, his equipment, and his plans for the future.
What was life like growing up in Armenia?
I grew up surrounded by artists from different backgrounds – sculptors, photographers, theater directors, actors and so on. So from a very early age I grew up in a world of art. It was wonderful. I have wonderful memories of my childhood, the early part of my youth, and teens. It was full of life and full of wonder. That period of my life has a lot to do with who I am now.
What is your regular equipment for shooting photography?
I shoot with a Canon 35mm. I print with Inkjet equipment on artists’ canvas paper.
Who is a photographer that you admire who has influenced you, and what kind of photography inspires you the most?
Photos that inspire me the most are ones that connect with something private within myself. I am inspired when I can relate to the image on a personal level, understand the story it tells, and the emotion it provokes. I am inspired by the image that speaks to me as friend or someone I trust and I’m interested in. I would probably be unable to single out one name simply because I have been inspired by so many artists in so many ways. My work is constantly influenced by the art that surrounds me, an ongoing discovery of self.
Some of your photos have people as your subjects. Are they people you know or do you go to different places and capture anonymous subjects in a specific moment?
It’s almost always anonymous subjects in a specific moment. Usually it revolves around the idea of some individual within an environment. As the title of the show reflects, it’s usually a fraction of a moment that tells a short story that I emotionally connect with. Occasionally, I mix that with a little bit more conventional photography when I do know the subject. Let’s say I am working on one particular project and one of the images catches that symbolic meaning or visual style that corresponds with the voice of my work. Then, I include it in in my portfolio.
I also noticed that some of your photographs have some elements of nature – rain or fog, or a body of water. Are you inspired by nature as well?
Absolutely. I believe that in general my work is the relationship of the individual, a human being, and the surrounding nature – whether it be an ocean, a forest, a foggy environment, the snow, or an urban environment. All of it for me, if you can put it in the context of nature, makes it a relationship between a person and environment. I am fascinated with the beauty in nature, and the transformation that nature brings, such as fog, snow, and rain. Water, of course, is a very dynamic visual attribute to the photography. So yes, environment and nature are very much a part of my photography.
After you’ve taken the photograph, before you’ve printed it do you process your photo at all?
I only apply very limited, conventional photographic applications such as contrast or exposure, or dodging or burning, but there are no additional effects. What you actually see is just the one shot. Just a single image.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently, I am working on the exhibition of the working knowledge of the self. This show has been photographed entirely in India. It is a trilogy. It revolves around the subject of searching for a person, revealing him or herself in the quest for better knowledge of themselves, and an ideal birth or death. Currently the images have been shot, and my editor and I are now working on the final stages. We are hoping to have an exhibition in New York City this year.
Was this your first exhibition in Sacramento? Have you ever been to Sacramento?
It was my first show in Sacramento. I unfortunately have not been to Sacramento, but I am looking forward to visiting.
How did you come into contact with the Appel Gallery?
I wanted to have some representation in California, and I did some research looking in to the galleries that are listed on the web, and some I felt were inappropriate for the kind of work that I’m doing. When I saw Appel gallery, I really liked the artists that are represented. You get a sense looking at the website the type of gallery it is. I contacted him, and he liked what I’m doing, and the rest is history. We had our show.