Today we’d like to introduce you to Mher Vahakn Ajamian.
Mher Vahakn, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I first took up photography as an elective in high school. I thought it would be a good intro into filmmaking, which is what planned to study in college. But I fell in love with the magic of film and the alchemy of the darkroom. I was hooked from then on. I ended up taking photography classes all throughout high school and even became photo editor of the newspaper and the yearbook. From high school. I went on to study both the technical and artistic elements of photography at Art Center College of Design. I got in at a very young age. Most my classmates might have been a handful of years older than me, but they also had experience working as photo assistants. To put it in perspective, most of my classmates would get together and go hang out at a bar. I couldn’t join them because I was too young to even drink legally! The courses were challenging and the workload was vigorous, but I worked hard and excelled because I loved the craft. Since I was a newbie— and again, very young when I attended Art Center— I didn’t really take advantage of some of the opportunities the school presented.
So instead I started a band.
While going to school for photography, I also pursued my other passion: music. I spent a lot of time trying to produce music, setting up gigs all over Los Angeles to perform or organizing concerts. Even after graduating from Art Center my focus shifted from photography to music. But then my world kind of imploded. My mom passed away after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. My band fell apart. My long-time girlfriend and I broke up (don’t worry, she comes back in a good way!). It was a disaster. It was during this time, I decided to redirect my energy back into to my photography career.
I started to hustle like crazy.
I first got a part-time job as a retouch artist. Then I took every photography gig that I came across. I photographed headshots, products, events, spaces and even did some graphic design work. Anything that needed a photo, I was there with my Nikon. Although I enjoyed the work I was getting, commercial photography sort of felt bland to me. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. In 2005 I photographed my first wedding. At first click, a light bulb went off. I knew this was what I wanted my photography career to specialize in. The more I photographed special events, family portraits and weddings, the more it was clear to me that this was my true calling. Nothing compared to the emotional gratification I received from couples and families after I delivered their images. As I started booking more and more wedding and events, my wife (who was once my long-time girlfriend) started to help in small ways here and there. In 2014 we came to a crossroads with the wedding photography business. We both had these separate and independent careers + managing an entire side business became too much to handle. So, we made a decision to pull our energy into this business and jump in, all in.
A year later we established Mher Vahakn Photo. We now have a full-service photography studio that specializes in wedding and family portraiture. My wife runs the studio and both the business and marketing end of things, while I take care of the creative and artistic side.
We haven’t looked back since.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think the most challenging part has been working alongside my wife. For the most part, it’s been a blessing. Having her be a major component in our business has allowed me to focus on other parts as well as propelled us forward. In fact, our wedding photography business has been the smoothest collaboration all of our artistic endeavors together. But when we do come across hard decisions to make, we can be very stubborn in what we think is the right move. Working together has made us better at communicating with each other and really listening to each other’s needs. Which also helps us understand our couple’s needs.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mher Vahakn Photo – what should we know?
Mher Vahakn Photo is a Los Angeles based wedding photography studio. We also capture engagements, family portraits and other special events all over Southern California. We are also a husband and wife team. My wife Atina Hartunian, who has a creative writing background, manages the studio and markets the hell out of things. While I’m the photographer and retoucher of our dynamic duo.
Although we photograph weddings, our mission is to tell stories. It’s capturing the story of that day—the story of our couples. So, when they see their wedding photos for the first time, or revisit them years from now, we want them to feel like they’re reliving that day and those moments. The narrative of these stories all share the same three traits. They are: Colorful + Heartfelt + Non-Fiction. They’re are the same three words we use to describe our style as well.
Our events are Colorful. While some wedding photographers may stay close to the traditional white or muted tones, we run after anything and everything that has color. From a vibrant urban mural to the rich hues of a bridal bouquet, we seek color in event we photograph.
Our wedding stories are Heartfelt. I’m always looking to capture emotions in my images. Whether our couples or family members are laughing, smiling or crying, those are the moments I look for. I’m interested in capturing the love and unique chemistry between our couples because having heart makes a good story.
Our couples are Non-Fiction. As in our couples are real people who want to us to capture them as who they are.
I think couples feel like they can be themselves when we photograph them because of who we are and what we bring to our photoshoots. Weddings can be stressful. Engagement or family portraits can feel awkward. But we bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to these sessions and it allows everyone to relax and really get into it. They can let their guard down with us and be their true selves in front of the camera. I think it’s also part of the reason clients come back to us for their maternity, baptism, first family portraits and holiday cards. We build a sense of trust and a relationship means everything to us.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think in this type of work or industry, where you’re essentially being asked to document a very important and intimate occasion, you have to care. And we care, tremendously. It’s very easy to get carried away with the work. To think about the next epic hero shot that will go viral on all the social media and blogs out there and let the needs of your couple slip away.
Our priority is our couple. Which is why we emphasize that our number one goal is for them to have a good time at their wedding. It’s the one day that they should be present and experience every moment. It’s our job to document and observe without getting in the way.
- Website: www.mhervahaknphoto.com
- Phone: 818.925.6437
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @mhervahaknphoto
- Facebook: facebook.com/mhervahaknphoto
- Other: pinterest.com/mhervahaknphoto
Photos of Mher + Atina by Raffi Alexander (Spiderbox Photography)
All other photos by Mher Vahakn