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    Photo: Diana Markosian

    Inventing My Father: A Photographer’s Long Journey Home

    Photographer Diana Markosian traveled back to her native Armenia to reconnect with her father, a man with whom she’d had no contact since she was a child.

    Another great essay by Reportage contributor Diana Markosian.

    Monks at home, before morning alms, in Myitkyina. (Photo by Diana Markosian/Reportage by Getty Images)

    The New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog has published new work from Reportage contributor Diana Markosian about life and conflict in Kachin State, Burma. See the feature here.

    PDN Announces 30 Photographers to Watch in 2014

    The editors of Photo District News (PDN) have announced their annual list of the top 30 emerging photographers for 2014. Now in its 15th year, the list highlights photographers who were selected from more than 300 nominated photographers because of their distinctive vision, creativity, and versatility.

    This year, the list includes Reportage featured contributor Diana Markosian, who won wide acclaim for her project “Goodbye my Chechnya,” about Chechen girls coming of age amid an Islamic revival after two decades of war.

    “I have to genuinely care about what it is I’m photographing,” she told PDN. “I am still not quite sure why I am attracted to certain places, but photography has allowed me to explore and try to understand for myself what it is that leads me to these places.”

    Two other photographers selected by PDN are former Reportage Emerging Talents Maria Turchenkova and Kiana Hayeri. Learn more about their work and the rest of the winners on the PDN 30 Web site.

    The folks at Reportage extend our congratulations to all of them.

    Caption: SERZHEN, YURT -  FEBRUARY 20: A couple on a date with her boyfriend on February 20, 2012, in the small village of Serzhen-Yurt, Chechnya. Couples must meet in public and stand a distance from one another. From the essay “Goodbye my Chechnya.” (Photo by Diana Markosian/Reportage by Getty Images)

    Caption: Chechen dancers backstage at a concert hall in the Chechen capital, Grozny. A suicide bomb exploded in front of the concert hall in 2009, killing six people and wounding several others. From the series “Goodbye My Chechnya,” by Reportage contributor Diana Markosian. Diana was named a finalist in this year’s Aftermath Project grant; the winner is Luca Locatelli, for his project “United Colours of War.” Read more about the Aftermath Project on its Web site.

    Reportage contributor Diana Markosian photographed Myanmar’s former child soldiers on assignment for Newsweek Magazine.


    Thein Htut Oo has the Burmese word for “mother” tattooed on his right bicep and “father” on his left. Like young men the world over, he got the tattoos while serving in the military, in this case Myanmar’s military.

    Only at the time he was not a young man, but a 15-year-old boy who missed his parents.

    On the backs of his hands are more tattoos: “zeal” on his right and “brave” on his left. They were also done while he was in the military, not by choice, but by force after he tried to run away. They serve as a reminder of what he endured in the three years he spent in the military, like the malaria from which he also still suffers.

    No one is sure how many children serve in Myanmar’s armed forces, one of the largest standing armies in Southeast Asia. In recent years, about 500 have been released after they were punished for deserting or have left in other ways. But experts agree many more children remain serving in the nation’s military and in non-governmental armed groups.

    In June 2012, after half a decade of negotiations, Myanmar signed a U.N. pact to end the use of child soldiers. Since then the government has held four official events releasing 176 children and young adults from the military. That they are returned to civilian life suffering from serious physical and mental trauma is a given. Whether they can ever recover is less clear.

    Child Soldiers: Graduating From the School of Hard Knocks Isn’t Easy 

    PDN Online profiles Reportage photographer Diana Markosian and her series “My Father, the Stranger,” about the man she had no contact with for 15 years, until she arrived unannounced on his doorstep in Armenia.

    She moved in with him, but her father remained distant, retreating emotionally and physically into his career as a poet, and the other people in his life. “There was absence in his presence. He’d leave before I’d wake up, and come home after I was asleep,” says Markosian, who spent her days reading in her father’s apartment, and occasionally venturing out to shoot assignments from editors back in the U.S. Living with her father “just felt so empty in a way.”

    Read more from the article on PDN Online, and view other work by Diana on the Reportage Web site.

    Photo by Diana Markosian

    My Father, the Stranger

    In her most recent project, Diana Markosian, a Reportage emerging talent, wrote about and photographed her attempt to reconnect with her estranged father. A version of the story appeared in yesterday’s New York Times:

    I knocked on the door of a stranger. I had traveled halfway around the world to see him.

    My father.

    I was 7 years old when I last saw him. Nearly 15 years later, I stood in the courtyard of his home in Armenia … You could say that I had come home. But that wasn’t how it felt.

    Over the weekend, Diana was awarded Burn Magazine's Emerging Photographer Grant for this work. You can also see a write-up about her on the New York Times's Lens Blog.

    Caption: Father’s shirt at home in Armenia, 2012. (Photo by Diana Markosian.)

    Diana Markosian, a Reportage Emerging Talent, is presenting work at Photo Center NW in Seattle on Thursday, May 9, at 6:30. Click here for more details.

    Photo Center NW is pleased to host documentary photographer and writer Diana Markosian for a lecture focused on developing a personal visual style as a documentary photographer and photojournalist. Markosian’s reporting has taken her from Russia’s North Caucasus mountains, to the ancient Silk Road in Tajikistan and overland to the remote Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan.

    Caption: Seda Makhagieva, 15, wraps a pastel-colored head and neck covering in Chechnya in 2012. Makhagieva fought to wear the hijab - a sharp break from her family’s traditions. See more work from this series, “Goodbye my Chechnya,” on the Reportage Web site. (Photo by Diana Markosian)


    More than 70 years of Soviet rule, followed by two decades of frequent warfare, inflicted a heavy toll on Chechnya, a small, mostly Muslim republic in southern Russia.

    Russia has effectively crushed the rebel movement in Chechnya; the main city, Grozny, has been rebuilt; and the Chechen government has embarked on a campaign to promote Islam.

    Today, alcohol is all but banned, polygamy encouraged, and single-sex hair salons and gyms are becoming the norm. Some Chechen women say their rights are being curtailed.

    100 Words: Chechen Girls And The Rise of Islam

    Photo Credit: Diana Markosian

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