Yelbasy’ native word for me- author of sensational photo
Davit Hakobyan, personal photo of Armenian President is known in Kazakhstan as the author of the very image of Nursultan Nazarbayev. And, when we write "the very image", the reader involuntarily understands what is meant. Namely, the photo of the President of Kazakhstan during his participation in the summit of CIS leaders in Sochi, which gained great popularity on the Internet.
Nowadays Davit Hakobyan pays a visit to Astana and takes part in the photo exhibition dedicated to the anniversary of the capital of Kazakhstan. BNews.kz correspondent had a unique chance to have a talk with the author of the sensational photo of Nazarbayev and nuances of protocol shooting and profession as well.
- Davit, how did you managed to make Nazarbayev's photo exactly like this?
“Initially I was planning to take a photo of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, but the shot of Nazarbayev came out more successful. There should be a meeting in a narrow format. We were waiting for the leaders to enter the big hall. I chose the light and wait for the moment of appearance. It happened Nursultan Nazarbayev was the first one that day I made a lot of photos as usual however I couldn’t even imagine a better photo.”
- Why did this very so photo become popular? Can you find some new meanings in this shoot?
- In fact, there is much to be found. And a political moment as well: the presidents of many other countries in the back photo, and Nursultan Nazarbayev stands out. This shows the role of the president of Kazakhstan in the post-Soviet space, his authority.
-How often do your photos intrigue?
- I’m an author of numerous photos of Serzh Sargsyan, among which is the photo of the President of Armenia with the Rome Pope. It has a lot of views. To be honest the photo of Nazarbayev is the only photo taken by me which provoked such a great interest. I was weirded out! I woke up in the morning, and my phone was ringing off the hook, messages, More than a thousand Kazakhs have been added to friends on my Facebook page. Since then, I started a friendship with the Kazakhs. Personally, for this it was unexpected. I read a lot of comments. Kazakhs thanked. Everyone wrote "Yelbasy" word, I did not know what that meant, but now it's already a native word, which is associated with this photo.
- What is the further fate of the Nazarbayev’s photo?
- Sometimes businessmen from Astana have addressed me concerning the placement of the photo in presidential deluxe or lobby of the new hotel. Then they suddenly have stopped the talks on this issue.
- Do you participate in the photo festival taking place in Astana?
- Yes, I do. I was invited to take part in the event devoted to the Astana birthday. 17 photogs made shots of the city. I chose the religious theme. It is of great interest for me to depicture peaceful co-existence of the different religions. The exhibition is interesting due to the outside point of view.
- What are your impressions of the Kazakhstanis?
- I’m pleasantly impressed by the thankfulness of the Kazakh nation.
- Аre you recognizable here in Astana?
- Two people recognized me in the mosque and in the museum.
- How did you become interested in photography?
- I dreamed to travel a lot, and my dream came true. I have been working since I was 24 years old. It’s not a work but rather a way of life. Because I do it with love. It is important. But at the same time, it is important to be able to earn.
Protocol shooting is something easy for me. During the process of the work, I use two cameras, the second one for shooting photos which are a bit different from the official. Because it is difficult to shoot just official meetings. I try in addition to my main work, where the emphasis is on information, to be engaged in creativity. Including the presidents. Armenia recently has changed the opinion of politicians. I want to show what kind of people they are, that's why the people perceive politicians in a different way. It seems to me that it is important to show which presidents are outside the protocol shooting.
- What does allow you to show the leaders on many sides?
It depends on many things including the politician himself. For example, Serzh Sargsyan doesn’t like to be photographed. I always say about Pete Souza former Chief Official White House Photographer for U.S. President Barak Obama. Pete Souza is my cult figure. And his chief contributes this fact. The photog manages to make unique photos due to may be a wild way of Mr. Obama. For example to put his feet on the table during the meeting and so on. It is easier to work with him. And if he had worked with another president, he could not have made such interesting cadres.
- Why are the CIS presidents rarely ready for openness? President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is quite open and often puts photos into social networks.
- Another mentality prevails in the Post-Soviet countries. Someone recognized the necessity and convenience of the social networks. And there is another social segment. A lot of people are eager to follow Croatia’s President social networks due to her appearance. Different country, the mentality. All in good time.
- Can you say something about dangerous moments in your profession?
- So suddenly, I do not remember …. Maybe you know about conflict relations between Turkey and Armenia. In 2007 President of Armenia should visit football match, we had to go to the stadium for making photos. The Armenian flag blew at our bus, and the moment we arrived at the stadium, Turkish fans began to throw the bus with stones. It was nervous. The special forces were attracted to evacuating journalists.
-Did you take photos at that very moment?
- Yes, I did, for the first time. And then I had to stop. The fans became more aggressive.
-Will mobilography replace professional photography?
- It seems that it will do. Photographers are jealous of this, but this is the reality of life. Now everything has changed. Technology is developing. Nowadays it is not important what kind of technology and lens you have, but the meaning that you put in the photo is as a priority. In principle, a good shot can be made with an iPhone.
- Some word about wages?
- It depends. For example, the photogs could have a lot of job-offers due to the wedding season. And of course, it happens that there are no offers at all. The stable work is necessary.
- What will be your answer to job-offer to make the photo of the wedding in Kazakhstan?
- I got job-offers from Kazakhstani people but not of this kind. (Laughing). Why not? Don’t get me wrong. It is needed to commercialize your skills. It is vital to set a right good price. i.e. to find a balance in this issue. I can not do that. It is important to give a taste of your works’ quality. You can name the price of a hundred dollars and people will consider that you are a weak photographer and will better hire someone who will take photos for a thousand dollars. It is a sort of psychological marketing. You need to know who and what to say.