Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Ishkhan Ghazarian, a fifth year photography student in Directed Studio. 

In this series, Ishkhan and Morgan talk about on location vs in studio shooting, lighting styles and using fine art as inspiration for his portrait sessions.

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What is your favourite lighting set up and camera/lens combination?

My favourite lighting setup is Rembrandt style lighting. I tend to do most of my shooting on location, outside the studio, so I prefer using natural light diffused through a window or reflected off a building. My favourite camera set up is my Nikon D850 with my 50mm f1.8 lens.

 

Can you walk us through how you set up the studio during one of your shoots? 

When I shoot in the studio, for most cases, I have a pretty simple setup. I am a big fan of having a one light setup in combination with a reflector. I setup the light to the right of the subject very similar to a Rembrandt style. Having one light source allows me to control the depth that I desire in the photos, and using the reflectors I can fill in the shadows with my desired amount of light based upon specific mood I want to achieve.

phoenix

Ishkhan Ghazarian, Untitled Portrait, 2017

How does your shooting style change on location vs. in studio? How do you see these two options as changing the mood or lighting of your shoots?

When I am on location verses in studio my style does change, but only slightly. When shooting on location the biggest change comes when looking for lighting. Since you are not in a studio you are constantly looking for external sources of light, whether it be from a neon sign, the sun peeking through branches or a beautiful soft light diffusing through a window. All these different sources of light change the mood of the photograph, so planning ahead, scouting the area is a good idea, but when on location things can change in an instance. This challenge is one of my favourite reasons of shooting on location, you always learn something new.  When I am shooting on location the surroundings also play a big role in the mood of the photographs. The surrounding become part of the photograph and are as important as the subjects themselves.

Do you collaborate with other artists on your shoots (stylists, makeup artists, other photographers etc)? If so, what do you see as valuable about collaborations between artists?

Yes, I often collaborate with models, stylists and other photographers. Collaborations are a great opportunity to not only learn something new from others, but also to challenge yourself to doing something you might have not done otherwise. Often you might feel like you are stuck, creatively, so collaborating with other artists give you a chance to experience something new and I highly recommend everyone to do this.

 

“Rembrandt’s paintings such as his portraits influence my lighting and composition, and Pablo Picasso’s paintings inspire my colour palate. Everyone should go to an art museum and look at fine art, these works in here are from people that were a master of their craft, and who better to learn from and get inspired by than them.”

 

When scouting or looking for models, who or what do you look for?

When scouting for models it all depends on the situation. Sometimes I will have a certain vision of what kind of photograph I am looking to create and I will match my project to the subject, or visa versa. Sometimes the project will be a collaborative effort where a model has a vision and we work as a team to make that photograph happen.

What makes you finalize the last couple images that you publish, after you have done a full shoot?

After a shoot is finished I import all the photographs into lightroom, go through all the photographs and begin a very thorough elimination process. I will be looking over the composition, lighting, focus, and expression and find the ones that speak to me the most. Sometimes your best photograph might not be the one that is most in focus but what matters is that it resonates with you.

roshan

Ishkhan Ghazarian, Untitled Portrait, 2017

What do you look at for inspirations for each of your shoots?

My inspirations come from a couple different places. One of my sources of inspiration comes from fine art. Rembrandt’s paintings such as his portraits influence my lighting and composition, and Pablo Picasso’s paintings inspire my colour palate. Everyone should go to an art museum and look at fine art, these works in here are from people that were a master of their craft, and who better to learn from and get inspired by than them.

It seems like you do a lot of on location shooting. Do you have any best practices or tips to give other photographers who want to improve their location shooting?

Practice, Practice, Practice. Always look at your surrounding, learn about your environment and take all that it can offer you.

Since you do a lot of portraiture, how do you manage getting your model or subject comfortable enough for you to photograph them?

(hahaha) I can’t give away all my secrets. Every photographer does it differently but it is about making the model comfortable. For me that just means being myself, and letting the shoot progress naturally.

Where do you see your career path going and who would you most like to work with/for?

I plan on continuing my work as a freelance photographer, running my own business.

alicia

Ishkhan Ghazarian, Untitled Portrait, 2017

What is your advice for artists who are looking to make their art practice into a business?

If there is one piece of advice I can give you is, Network, Network, Network. Start with people close to you, friends and family, it’s a good way to practice and figure out what you like and what direction you want to go into. This part can be extremely difficult and it’s very rare that it will happen in a day, but it can. Never giving up is the key, don’t lose focus and keep your head up, always.

Are there any specific OCAD-U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?

I don’t think there is one specific person, but every faculty member has in their own way touched on something and has definitely helped me improve not only my work, but also my work ethic, the way I approach different situations/problems and have guided me in the right direction that I needed to go in.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to collaborate with other artists?

Ask! Be confident in your work and in yourself, you never know who might be wanting to work with you.

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You can see more of Ishkhan’s work here, and follow him on instagram.

Follow the OCAD U Photo Facebook page and Instagram for more opportunities, calls for submissions and news about students.

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Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

About the writer: Morgan is a photo alumni and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative non-institutional spaces. She is the Art Co-ordinator for The RUDE Collective, and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.