By Aram Arkun
WASHINGTON — Joyce Naltchayan Boghosian has not only seen people and places most people only see on television or the news, but has captured them for posterity through her work over several decades as a photographer. Some of her photographs are used as illustrations in history books, while others may be found in the George Bush Presidential Library and the institution dedicated to the work of his son, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which will open in spring 2013. She is from a well-known family of photographers, with her brothers Haik and Neshan H. Naltchayan also working in the field. It was their father, Harry (Harout) Naltchayan, who initiated the siblings into the world of photography. Born in Beirut, he and his brother had a photography studio and photographed prominent people, including the Lebanese president. According to his daughter, he began working with the American embassy and after marrying came to the US in 1958 for a safer life. He had already made some contacts with magazines such as National Geographic and Life, but when the Washington Post had a temporary opening for a photographer he started working there. His knowledge of five languages, combined with an outgoing personality, led him to end up working for the Post for 35 years. He covered national news in Washington, including important episodes of the Civil Rights movement, Watergate and presidential events, though he also traveled occasionally to places like the Middle East. He covered presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton and took an award-winning photograph of four American presidents called the modern day Mt. Rushmore. Several decades later his daughter took a similar historic photograph of five living presidents.
Harry Naltchayan was the photographer of the 1978 National Geographic article, “The Proud Armenians.” He won many prizes, including four first place awards from the White House News Photographers Association.
Naltchayan lent his American-born daughter, Joyce a Leica, a high-end German camera often used by professionals, when she went on a field trip in fifth grade. Joyce Boghosian commented, “I remember my dad taking me to art galleries and saying, look at how the artist drew his pictures. This can inspire you and give you ideas.”
Boghosian continued taking pictures in high school, where she became the yearbook photographer and had an experience decisive for her future. She said, “What really inspired me to take this route was that during my senior year of high school, after the Challenger space shuttle disaster [in 1986] with Christa McAuliffe, President [Ronald] Reagan came to our school to address the students. As the yearbook photographer I was able to work next to photo journalists and the press corps and photographed President Reagan…It really gave me the bug.”