“Analog photography teaches you to carefully pick the right moment,” begins the architect-turned-photographer Ashot Snkhchyan whose images create a sequence of life’s unfeigned spontaneity. His work reflects a pure, documentary character, akin to contemporary entries in a visual diary. Each frame is an authentic moment, uncontrived, unfiltered—a raw slice of life as seen through his discerning eye.
His character is reflective, grounded in a deep appreciation for the impermanent beauty that surrounds us. His photos, he admits, are “very personal, sometimes intimate,” featuring the people he loves most, shared with the world not for acclaim but for the sheer joy of preservation and expression. They aren’t looking to sell, promote, or persuade; they are simply moments of truth, inviting us to pause and appreciate them for what they are.
In our interview, we talk about the symbiosis of architecture and photography, the charm of analog in the digital era, and the intimate process of curating a family legacy.
Has your background in architecture influenced the way you approach photography, and if so, how?
Probably yes, but not directly. I was always interested in art, cinema, and photography, and as an architect, my brain is trained to operate with images. I have a lot of visual references in my mind, and I guess they pop up unconsciously when I shoot.
What are the most significant challenges of working with analog tools in a digital age?
Actually, there are no significant challenges with analog if you’re not a professional photographer but an enthusiastic amateur like myself who shoots for fun and has plenty of room for mistakes and imperfections. All the tools are easily accessible: film, chemicals, darkroom accessories… You just need to have time and will for it.
How do you decide which moments or subjects deserve to be captured on film?
Well, that’s a matter of the moment. Almost always I carry my beloved old boy Nikon FM with me wherever I go, I see something beautiful and press the button. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I shoot whatever I see. Quite the opposite. Analog photography teaches you to carefully pick the right moment, keeping in mind that you have only 36 frames in your hands. That is something people forgot in the digital era.
“My main ‘model’ is my wife, who’s my best friend, companion, business partner, and the greatest inspiration.”
I love how your pictures capture so much of life. Your Instagram page could almost be called your personal photo album. Why do you choose to share these moments with the world?
Thank you! Actually, it is my personal photo album, the archive of my life, not me. My photos are very personal, sometimes intimate. My main “model” is my wife, who’s my best friend, companion, business partner, and the greatest inspiration. I have hundreds of photos of her. I shoot my daughter, my friends, all the people I love, although sometimes it feels like I’m annoying them with my camera. I just capture all the beauty that I’m luckily surrounded by. Those are the visual memories I want to keep forever. Some people really don’t understand why I share those photos, especially nude images of my wife, although I’m carefully choosing which photos to share. They are beautiful, and I want people to see them. Because why not?!
Do you have a favorite photo you’ve taken?
I have many favorite photos, but I can’t highlight one. It’s too difficult.
You are also a vinyl record collector. What’s the latest vinyl you added to your collection?
The latest addition to my collection is Yussef Dayes’ new album called “Black Classical Music”. It’s a wonderful album! But most of my collection consists of much older records, mainly jazz/funk/fusion from the early ’70s to late ’80s.
“Exploring my grandpa’s archive… It was, and still is, some kind of meditation that brings up a lot of memories, sometimes imaginary ones.”
I saw that you started to digitize the photo archive of your grandpa. I love that so much! What inspired you to start curating your grandpa’s photo archive?
My grandpa died when I was only 4 years old, but I have very warm memories of him. I assume my love for photography is inherited from him. He used to photograph a lot. I first started shooting analog with his old, soviet Zenit camera. My interest in his photo and video archive appeared after the untimely death of my mother two years ago. There was something very sentimental about those photos, especially seeing my mom in her childhood through the lens of her father. I thought it would be great to digitize his archive. Then I thought why not open an IG profile for that?
Are there any memorable stories or historical contexts behind the photographs in the archive?
Yes, many photos are historically interesting. I see a lot of places and buildings in his photos that I barely can recognize nowadays. The city changed a lot and it interests me as an architect. Also, I heard many stories about his and my grandmother’s cruise to northern Europe and Japan in the mid ’70s. It was very difficult and uncommon during the soviet times. Luckily he took a lot of photos during those trips and now I can connect the stories I’ve heard to the images I see.
How has exploring your grandpa’s archive influenced your perspective on family, history, and memory?
Exploring my grandpa’s archive coincided with the period when I started rethinking my life, my family, my parents, and my own childhood… It helped me a lot. It was, and still is, some kind of meditation that brings up a lot of memories, sometimes imaginary ones. It may sound melancholic, but it is not at all! So thanks to my grandpa! I hope one day my grandchildren will also explore my archive, they’ll find a lot of hot stuff there… (smiles)
Thank you so much for your time!
Explore the digitized photo archive of his grandfather at: www.instagram.com/raul_mkryan