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Photography | Liberating images with Harout Dedeyan

July 24, 2019


By Lilly Torosyan


Photography | Liberating images with Harout Dedeyan

From writing and drawing to sketching, screen-printing, and illustrating children’s stories, Harout Dedeyan’s hobbies run the creative gamut. Yet, photography has become the designer's main outlet in recent years.

Artist's name Harout Dedeyan

Photographer; Architectural designer

City/Country Northridge, Los Angeles, Calif.
About the artist
  • Associate Principal of Rottet Studio, an international architecture and design firm
  • Holds a M.Arch. (Master of Architecture) degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Has lived in four different countries across three different continents: the United States, France, Armenia, and Lebanon
Harout DedeyanHarout Dedeyan

Every artist possesses a particular medium of the senses: the painter strokes color on a blank canvas, the dancer enthralls through corporeal movement, the singer wields the diaphragm with mellifluous sound, and the photographer—a baby among other art form peers—captures images using a gifted eye.

How many of us have lived a moment in real-time, and, only upon admiring it through a picture, noticed details that we had missed before? Few creative forms live so vibrantly in this timespace between the past and the present. The photographer snaps what no one else sees, and brings it alive for eternity. 

Designer by day, photographer by night (or more often, weekend), Harout Dedeyan has always had a keenness for the built environment. “I like responding to places, looking at marks and traces, making the overlooked noticed and acknowledged through my photographs,” he explains to h-pem. 

On marrying your passions

His love affair with images began on his 12th birthday, when his aunt gifted him with a Kodak Instamatic camera. “After the first roll of black and white film, I was totally hooked. Throughout the years, the Instamatic morphed into an SLR, medium format, 4x5.” 

In the years that followed, Dedeyan took courses in architectural and product photography and even ran a small side business shooting architectural models. “My trick was getting very close, using a wide-shift lens to give the model a very realistic look at eye level, instead of the bird’s eye views prevalent at the time,” he describes of his novice style. 

Eventually, though, his childhood dream of working in becoming an architecture edged out. Well-traveled, with a plethora of “hobbies” under his belt, one may make the mistake of brushing off photography as “just another hobby” for Dedeyan. But it was always a little more than that.
At first glance, architecture and photography seem worlds apart. The former is the perfect synthesis of both hemispheres of the brain. Combining mathematics with art to design buildings that are not only functional, but also aesthetically attractive, architectural designerss tow the fine line of innovation and functionality. Photography, by contrast, does not seem to require the same balancing act. 
But peer closer, and you will notice that the two are not all that different. Both architectural designerss and photographers think “outside the box” (or “prism,” in architecture-speak), and in both fields, Dedeyan searches for simplicity.

On inspirations

A few years ago, Dedeyan was inspired by Robert Holmgren’s exhibition, “Toy Camera Works,” where the commercial photographer “put his expensive gear and gizmos aside and used a toy camera for his personal work.” After that, Dedeyan, too, gravitated towards the simple, remarking, “it’s very liberating.”

Nowadays, Dedeyan travels around with a small digital camera and tripod. “It’s almost like coming full circle—back to the Instamatic—but hopefully, with a better eye and much better results.” He admits that a good camera is important, but in the end, “it’s just a tool.” The critical element, he says, is the infamous “photographer’s eye” or “vision.”

On 'Art on Architecture'

There is no better synthesis of design and photography, the two hemispheres of Dedeyan’s world, than his photographic series, “Art on Architecture.” Started four years ago as a way to shoot buildings that are used as canvasses for public art, or as backdrops to the art he shoots, or sometimes to just shoot the art (without the architecture), the project has developed into something bigger. He prints the photographs on archival paper and creates handmade postcards, which he mails to people dear to him.

“I love this old-fashioned exercise, in an age of electrons traveling at the speed of light. I don’t want anyone to ‘follow’ me or ‘like’ my pictures. Sometimes, it’s very soothing to slow down and go back in time. I also enlarge and frame the pictures, hoping, one day, to have the opportunity to show them,” he explains.

As for how he takes his shots? Dedeyan’s approach remains constant, with his camera unfailingly by his side and that photographer’s eye consistently in focus. “I’m always on the lookout, ready to shoot as material presents itself. I was on my way to a construction meeting when I shot the beam gymnast. The Calder sculpture was shot in Chicago as I was returning to the hotel from a client meeting. The mural with the cranes was shot as I was walking back to the office after having lunch. The list goes on.”

When asked how he finds the time to take photos, he replies, “photographs are everywhere; you just have to see them.”

View Dedeyan’s photographic series, “Art on Architecture,” below.

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