They stare intently into the camera with expressions of mischievousness, solemnity or joy. Taline Norsigian's ’19 photography suggests a real, genuine interaction with her subjects, young children on the streets and playscapes of Hartford, providing the viewer with a deeper sense of connection into the lives of children. Paired with the tightly cropped small faces of her charming subjects are the handwritten notes and scribbles under the child’s photo.
“I wanted to convey children's creativity by paring something from their mind or their interests with a photo of them to achieve a good representation of who they are. It’s fun to peek into the inside world of them. It was important to me that the child expressed themselves and I didn’t direct them,” she said. “They are more than what you see at face value.”
For six weeks this past summer, Norsigian participated in the SNAP! Photography workshop at the Amistad Center for Art and Culture through the Greater Hartford Arts Council. Prior to learning how to operate a camera, develop photos in a darkroom and edit images with Photoshop software, the students built their art vocabulary by studying the paintings at the Wadsworth Museum of Art and Yale and discussing color, composition, framing, subject matter, and stylistic choices. Critique is an important aspect of the learning process for building a solid foundation. By honing the basic technical skills and by examining works of art, as the student’s proficiency level increases, they then can to decide if the rules should be broken for their voice to be heard through their art.
Norsigian and her classmates walked the streets in Hartford and approached individuals to see if the students could take their photo. After receiving permission from the subjects, the students aimed their camera and captured ordinary people in their day-to-day lives. Following their workshop, each photographer presented their work at a gallery showing. Norsigian said she was deeply satisfied by the viewers' reaction to her photos because they were astonished by the children’s creativity.
Through the workshop, Norsigian gained a deeper understanding of her own thought process behind photos that she had taken prior to the class. “I learned that there’s always a hidden or not so hidden message in your work. In many of my photos, I didn’t necessarily know why I took them. But there was something subconscious coming through the process and a theme to convey my ideas. There's a reason why I took that. It’s not just “Let me just take a picture of a sunset.” I can now identify what my photos mean to me and what is important to me,” she said.
Even if Norsiasigian does not make a career photography, she knows that it is a beautiful means of self-expression. “I might not be a career path, but I know I will do it as an independent project and become as skilled as I can be," she said.