The Story of Yervant
These immortal words describe the signature style of Yervant Zanazanian, an Australian photographer who revolutionised the field of wedding photography. Yervant captured newlyweds in a way that had never been seen before—his wedding photos captured the celebration of the event.
I had the pleasure to speak to Anie Zanazanian, Yervant’s wife and business partner, who told me the story of Yervant’s success, his revolutionary methods and their upcoming symposiums.
An early pioneer
What separated Yervant Zanazanian from other wedding photographers of his era was how he embraced new technology. Invented in 1975, it was a long time before the digital camera would be taken seriously by professionals, who preferred film cameras and the development process.
This was especially true in wedding photography. Wedding photographers preferred to set up their shots with artificial lighting, specific locations and to have the bride and groom stay very still to have their photo taken. Yervant rebelled against all this.
Seeing the potential of digital photography before anyone else in the field, Yervant wanted to photograph newlyweds in action. He would take pictures of couples while they were dancing, get in close for intimate portraits and take the brides out into cafes, letting them feel like fashion models on their wedding day. Because digital image sensors fare better in low light conditions, Yervant was able to use natural light to his advantage. This provided for the newlyweds a more relaxed atmosphere. They could feel more comfortable under the camera’s eye.
Frosty reception at first
Yervant first spoke about his techniques in the 1990s, to a room full of professional wedding photographers. Most of these photographers stayed with film, used tripods and favoured artificial light. Yervant was determined to show them to a wealth of possibility with digital photography.
When he finished, he was met with a deafening silence from the crowd. Alone on the stage, Yervant thought he had failed. Had his lecture fallen flat?
Way, way up the back, shrouded in darkness, a lone audience member raised her hand. She yelled out her question, her voice splitting the silence and carrying all the way across the room: ‘Do you love me?!’
It was, of course, Anie—Yervant’s wife. Anie’s outburst managed to break the tension in the room. Audience members began to ask questions about the craft, taking an interest in Yervant’s bold ideas. His method had finally broken through.
Taking in the highest accolades
By the time he was 41 years old, Yervant had accomplished more in his field than most photographers will in their entire lives. The AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) invited him to an event at which they discussed SLR techniques and digital photography. While sitting there thinking, ‘This isn’t new, I’ve already done this’, Yervant was called up on stage and awarded a lifetime achievement award, the youngest member to ever receive a fellowship with the AIPP. Always a joker, he remarked upon receiving the award, ‘I hope you’re not retiring me!’
Later, in 2010, the WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photography Conference) awarded Yervant the highest accolade for wedding photographers, naming him ‘The Most Influential Photographer of Our Times.’
The next step
As Anie told me, Yervant is ready to lend his expertise and years of experience to other photographers. Yervant, Anie and a host of other professionals will be delivering a series of symposiums, beginning 18 – 19 May in Melbourne, then heading over to the US and Canada in June and July of this year..
Yervant wants to take things back to basics, discussing the art of seeing a shot, finding the light and taking the picture. Yervant will also be joined by Anie, who will be discussing everything photographers ought to know about running their own photography business. Other renowned photographers from the US will also be joining the Zanazanians on stage.
Don’t miss the opportunity to work with the world’s most innovative wedding photographer, whose determination and focus are the reasons wedding photography looks the way it does today.
View information about the symposiums here.
In addition to these great programs, Yervant and Anie’s new international education platform, Photography Symposiums International, was launched in Venice in September 2015. The program was a huge success and massively favoured by its attendees and has since become a bi-annual event around the world, bringing in top speakers discussing and education on diverse disciplines in photography. It’s the perfect place for photographers and enthusiasts to gather and talk the language of photography.