interview by q. larson, april 2013
Yeran, it's such a great name, what are it's origins? Is there any sort of special story of how your parents chose your name?
My name Yeran comes from this portion of the book of Matthew (here, in English, but my name comes from the Armenian translation):
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
In Armenian, instead of "blessed', it says "yerani"; Yeran means 'blessing'.
So give me a little background on you. Where did you grow up? Did you have any amazing pets when you were a child?
I grew up near the mountains of L.A. At one point, our backyard was a zoo. We had thirty homing pigeons, Japanese chickens, miniature quail, two guinea pigs and two rabbits. New we just have one dog, Hero, the most feminine doberman ever, I love her. I have a big-little brother Masis, and a little sister, Sevan.
Do you have any family that is in the creative field like yourself?
My mother loves history, and my dad is an engineer. My sister loves music and sign language, and my brother loves math. We're all creative in our own ways.
How did you make your way into photography?
I really had no intentions becoming a photographer, or an artist even. When I was 16 I was exploring classes offered at the near college, and signed up for photography since it was the next one down from psychology (which was full). And then I fell in love with printing... I wasn't a good photographer, my eyes weren't developed, and instead of shooting I spent all my time printing. I was a developing craftsman. It took several years to figure out who I was as a photographer, an artist and a creative woman.
Did you have any family or friends who had a large influence on you to get into photography?
My mom took gorgeous photographs when she lived in Egypt, Pakistan and Instanbul. She was an American missionary, serving in refugee camps in the 80's, translating for patients and doctors in women's clinics and teaching English courses. I grew up seeing imagery from around the world, and it gave me an eagerness to travel and make images that would look just as beautiful and capture something so special.
Do you remember the very first photo you took?
My mom has told me when I was three years old, I would take pictures with her Pentax K-1000. One day I took a picture of the sunflowers growing in our backyard. She was kind of stunned when she found it in the paper package that the prints came in from that roll of 35mm film. I was an early composer, and shot it sharp.
When did you know that photography was something you wanted to do for a living?
I never had thought about it, until one day I overheard a dude talking about going to school for photography. It seemed so bizarre to me, but this was the time I was very focused on the technical craft of darkroom printing, and I realized a formal education in photography would make me an even better craftsman. Halfway through my education, I progressively started to breakdown the crafts, take my photographs into simpler and simpler forms, and I found lots of creative happiness in doing that, and continue to pursue that. I want to take my photography to a natural form.
What inspires you?
The ultimate source of inspiration is found when I am surrounded by creation. Nature has it's way of vibrating powerful creative energy, and it is so humbling to feel. So being outside, close with the earth, is a love I have that abounds.
Have you ever tried surfing? (If so) How did/do you get over that fear of sharks?
I surfed for the first time this summer, when I travelled to Costa Rica with my family. I'm a great swimmer, and a horrible surfer. I never really thought about sharks while swimming, even though i know they're out there. I'm much more fearful of rip-tides... But sharks - the ocean is theirs, not mine, and I respect their home in the way I enjoy the water.
How does your life come through in your photographs?
I've always wanted a simple life. Living with less can lead to a full life when there is an overflow of love, peace, and happiness; and with much thankfulness, that is the life I live.
What is your favorite part of capturing an image?
The moment I was eager to capture has been caught. My gut always tells me when I got the picture I wanted. When I don't get that feeling, I know I have to keep going.
Can you put into words your photography style?
"beauty from ashes..." That phrase pairs well with the old art-concept from the Japanese language: Wabi Sabi, which is the balance between entropy and beauty. What I love most about "beauty from ashes" is that it has a redemptive quality to it, without discarding the fact that there are things in this world that break down, and those things can be beautiful. I am a believer in that there is no perfection here on earth, and that belief comes through in my work.
Have you ever hit a wall in your creative process? What did and do you do to get through it?
I hit walls when I close myself in. Usually I need to get up and go; walk or ride or drive somewhere new. I spend the night thinking and writing, which gets me excited about the next day. It's best to know yourself, because nipping stress, anxiety and fear in the bud goes a long way in how one works.
What sort of things do you have in your life today that influence your photography?
I have a great mentor, Michaela, who is a designer. She has taught me so much about tastefulness and balance, and has shown me so many new things. She helped train my eye and encouraged me to act on my instincts for composition and the pursuit of simplicity during the times where I felt frustrated with my work. We work on creative projects together regularly, which is such a blessing as a young photographer.
What is your biggest fear in life?
I am fear-less.
Did you ever have an imaginary friend when you were little?
Whenever I got to fly in an airplane as a kid, I always asked for the window seat. I would watch a slender, feminine figure sprinting through the white clouds. The clouds would rustle and bellow behind her. She was beautiful and I still wish I could be her.