I embarked on a new journey and decided to follow my greatest passion, launching myself into a career spearheaded by an uncharted journey of enlightening adventures, many challenges, and a world of learning. This resolute decision quickly opened a life rich with diverse experiences, rewards and even encouragement. I have been fortunate to have traveled the world extensively and have spent time with countless interesting people who have gifted me with the drive to raise awareness of the impact of human greed and cruelty on the natural world, the willingness and capacity to give back, and the time to focus on causes that are closest to my heart...in particular, to amplify the voices of those who are muffled.
What continues to drive me is something much bigger than myself. I could not write “my story” without touching on what truly fuels my journey: My love of The Land, the Culture, and the Journey...Three great passions undoubtedly stem from my being born and raised in Armenia, where I was submerged into the culture, raised to celebrate the land, and taught to embrace life with an open heart.
Although a sweeping landscape has taken my breath away countless times, to me, The Land means much more than cascading hills or a babbling brook; it is the manifestation of all that is living and the unbound demonstration of love, aggression, and the intensity of countenance. The Land is the life itself, enfolded in the realm of expression and emotion of all that surrounds us, often exposed by the depth of an animal’s gaze or through the gestures of another human being. A pair of weathered human hands can reveal the struggles of life’s work, whether tilling the soil to plant a tree or gripping a chainsaw to ravage a forest. My job as a photographer is to capture an extraordinary moment and, through that imagery, encourage the drive for conservation and harmony and invoke a positive action by sharing a moment of profound tenderness or unabashed hostility with someone in another part of the world.
Like many people who embrace adventure, I tend to stay away from touristy areas. “Been there, done that,” as they say. Paramount to my mission is to seek out out-of-the-way places and speak to the locals, visit their homes, share their food, and attempt to understand the challenges they face and their love. It is in these moments one can get a true sense of the good and the bad in the world. I find that enriching. It increases my understanding of others and bolsters my core belief that peaceful coexistence is possible. I genuinely believe that a global existence of social awareness, respect for nature, and acceptance for all of humankind can only be achieved if individuals search for their own truth and turn their back on popular opinion. A more meaningful life, and all of its gifts, are often revealed outside one’s comfort zone.
Two essential qualities fuel a mountaineer: passion and fearlessness. It is true that a climber must possess strength and physical training to summit, as well as maintain perseverance and mental conditioning along with the deep understanding of the mountain and its environmental counterparts’ critical role in a climber’s success – after all, nature will always have the final say. However, I believe that regardless of what heights one can achieve, it is the journey that brings a person to the foot of the mountain that counts. Mountaineers from all around the world connect at base camps around the globe forging new friendships with porters and one another, sharing stories, and breaking bread. They reach greater heights through this gift of the spirit, camaraderie, and willingness to help others and negate the trivial differences.