Lilit Khachatryan, 25, is an art critic and photographer from the COAF-supported community of Dalarik, located in the Armavir region of Armenia. She currently works at the History Museum of Armenia where she enjoys designing books and taking photos of museum pieces.
Lilit has been involved in COAF programs since childhood and is a firm believer that COAF has made a significant a impact on her life.
How I became a Photographer
When I was 14 or 15 years old, I didn’t know anything about COAF. I had heard about a photography club and a summer camp that would be launched in Dalarik. I enrolled in the camp and liked it very much. We learned embroidering and showcased our works at a fair.
After that I decided to study photography. I just felt I would succeed in it and I was right! Armen, the photography club instructor, helped me acquire many skills. I started taking photos and submitting them to various competitions. In one particular competition by the name of Young Man in the 21st Century held in Lithuania, a photo of mine was included in the top 100 submitted. It was published in various catalogues. Later, I took part in another photo competition in Armenia, where I received a monetary reward that helped me buy a camera.
I was excited by my success, however my teacher Armen kept saying that I was lazy, and that other people would achieve more if I didn’t push myself further. As the years passed, I continued photographing by digging deeper into the philosophy and techniques behind the art of photography. I learned graphic arts, entered the State Academy of Fine Arts, became an art critic, and proved to my teacher Armen that I was not lazy!
When I Contemplate Giving Up, I am Reassured COAF is at My Side
While studying at the Academy, I kept going to Dalarik on a weekly basis to take part in the photography club sessions. Deep in my heart, I realized that I had achieved everything thanks to COAF.
Rural families face too many challenges on a daily basis – they are preoccupied with figuring out ways to earn a living and rarely have time to uncover talents possessed by their children. COAF has done a remarkable job in filling that gap.
Thanks to COAF, I had the opportunity to meet renowned Canadian-Armenian photographer Hrayr Hawk Khatcherian who would visit our photo club sessions frequently. I would seek his advice often and he became a true mentor for me. He undoubtedly uncovered additional hidden talents in me and taught me new skills.
In many ways COAF opened my eyes. I had never been to Yerevan…in fact, I had never been far from my village of Dalarik before COAF.
I realized I was not confined to being a member of a “rural population” and that I had skills that can be appreciated beyond the borders of my community. I had characteristic features that used to be in a dormant state. Also, my self- esteem improved a lot.
COAF allowed rural youth like myself to embrace our uniqueness. I tended to be quite skeptical about my strengths, but now all that has changed. At times, when I doubt myself, I know deep in my heart that COAF is always beside me.
Sources of My Inspiration
My mother has always been my main source of inspiration. Although she has struggled a lot in life, her main focus has always been to ensure my success. My mother’s biggest influence on me is my ability to never fear living life to the fullest and to overcome obstacles that come my way. She has never stood in the way of my career and has encouraged me to explore freely.
One of my recent successes was a solo exhibition held at Yerevan’s popular Dalan Art Gallery. Some of my photos were also displayed at Matenadaran – the museum housing ancient Armenian manuscripts. I have also started collaborating with the Armenian Apostolic Church in Bucharest, Romania. Hrayr Hawk Khatcherian will be photographing the church’s artifacts, and I will oversee editing and design of the project.
My teacher COAF photography club instructor Armen holds a special place in my heart due to the initial support and inspiration he gave me in my early years, His advice over the years has continued to be invaluable to me. Hrayr Hawk Khatcherian has also played a tremendous role in my life. He helped me regard photography as an art form. One of the most memorable projects I worked on was Khatcherian’s book Cross-Stone. To this day, I remind myself that I would have never had the life I have today had it not been for COAF’s support.