Varouj Ishkhanian

Varouj Ishkhanian

Varouj Iskhanian

Armenian photographer from Jerusalem. Grandson of Krikor Ishkhanian, a known name in photography history of Palestine.

His studio possesses images from the last 130 years, tracing Jerusalem's past from Ottoman times, through British and Jordanian rule, to the founding of the state of Israel and the wars in between.

An Armenian who was born and grew up in the Old City, Ishkhanian is a small part of the history that he and his grandfather — and now his son — have photographed, having served as the semi-official photographer of King Hussein of Jordan in the late 1950s and early 60s.

He started taking pictures in his teens, in the mid-1940s, when he would help out his grandfather Kirkor at his photographic shop on Jaffa Street, in what was then called New Jerusalem — the part that lay outside the Old City's walls.

During the 1948 war he remained in the Old City, taking refuge in the Armenian Convent, but still going out onto the streets each day to hone his craft.

Having developed a knack for both news and more lucrative wedding photography — his collection contains several portraits of Arab girls preparing for marriage — he cajoled the Jordanian authorities who then administered Jerusalem into giving him the only pass to take photos at the Hashemite palace in Jordan.

With his sight gone in one eye after so many years in a dark room, Ishkhanian now spends his days in his studio selling prints of the collection. He remains buoyant and enthusiastic.

“Every day is good,” he says to Reuters correspondent in September 2006. “I still look at everything, and I still take pictures, even if not as well as before.”

Photo: Varouj Ishkhanian poses at the doorway of his photographic studio in the old city of Jerusalem September 14, 2006. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

See Reuters article posted in Azad-Hye.

Note: The article appeared in the UAE daily “Emirates Today” carrying the title: “130 years of Middle East”

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