Student Profile John Kerkacharian

By Sarah Van Arsdale on April 21st, 2011
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When asked about subject matter, most beginning photographers will name people, animals, landscapes and nature as their top picks. Not many would say they just love going out and shooting a giant backhoe, or a derelict building in the shadows of dusk.

But then, NYI Graduate John Kerkacharian isn’t most photographers. He is one of those photographers who has followed his own artistic impulse and created a niche for himself that few others would even think of. And yes, he also takes great portraits.

When asked what he’s working on now, John says something that may seem odd to people who are used to hearing photographers talk about the delights of portrait or wedding work.

He’s working on “industrial/commercial work covering a range of industrial processes including assembly lines, manufacturing, and power generation, from ultra modern facilities to relics of a not-too-distant past.”

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But looking at John’s photos, one can easily see the haunting beauty he sees in these things.

“My favorite subjects deal with industrial themes. I am currently working on nature in an industrial setting and have found I’m learning a lot about myself in the process,” he said. “I have a habit of looking at things a bit differently, and the best way to express my views is through photography. It’s one thing to say you have a different vision; it’s another thing to bring that vision to life.”

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Ironically, John came to photography in a more usual way, through nature. He was on a long hike on the Appalachian Trail, and fell on a steep slope.

“Right in front of me was an incredibly beautiful mushroom. The shape, the color of it lying there in a pile of leaves was just amazing. Had I not fallen, I would have stepped on it. I knew then that I needed a camera, in fact I yelled out to my friend ‘I NEED A CAMERA!’ The rest is history.”

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Once he got his camera, John realized he needed to learn more about photography, and he found that NYIP would give him a way of studying that he could fit into his busy life.

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“NYIP gives me focused direction and critiques on my work. All this on my own time and at my own pace, so for me there was no other option. I’m glad I took the plunge; it has changed my life,” he said.

John got his first job after a friend recommended his work. “The client was in a jam, they needed photos of their facility for a presentation. The presentation was on Tuesday; the photo shoot had to happen on Sunday. Needless to say the client got the photos and was able to show Philip Morris the facility. Philip Morris loved it and the client got the contract.”

John reports that he was never bored in his NYI Complete Course in Professional Photography lessons, and he credits the in-depth nature of the lessons for this, saying “I learned not just how to click the shutter, but why I was clicking it.”

The experiential nature of the Course also gave John the opportunity to really try out his new profession, so that he could then decide which area to specialize in.

“I learned a lot about who I am as a photographer. For example, the lessons on photojournalism were great. I went out and did the work, which was actually published in a newspaper,” he said.

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“But I learned from the Course that I was not a photojournalist. It was great being published and all that, but still it’s not my bag. This is priceless to me as an artist finding his way.”

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Unlike courses which keep the students in a classroom, the NYI Complete Course in Professional Photography forces the student out into the field.

“I like the way the Course puts ‘The Photographer’ on the firing line. You are out there alone with a camera and an assignment; it’s up to you to deliver,” he said. “This is not a boring lecture with some dry voice talking endlessly about photography. This is not a lab exercise on photography, this is photography itself!”

Now John’s working on shooting industrial scenes that also incorporate nature ‚Äî‚Äî producing his signature haunting photographs.

You can see more of John’s work at his Web site, www.pixbyjohn.com.


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