LOS ANGELES – Imagine the color blue on blue and on another blue. Does it sound tricky? Not for Liana Grigoryan. By using a palette of bold colors and unexpected backdrops she is able to create a simple art piece or, as she likes to call it, a fine art photograph, to land straight in the pages of Vogue or Cosmopolitan magazines. But the path she chose was never easy. And there she is in my virtual interview room, simple and down to earth, looking just like an old friend from my neighborhood, wearing a T-shirt with Minnie Mouse and a big smile on her face. She is from Yerevan, a fellow alumna of the Caucasus Institute and the last class of Documental Photography Studies led by famous photographer Ruben Mangasaryan.
As an immigrant, the “American dream” wasn’t really a dream for Liana. All her relatives lived in Europe. She never even thought about moving to the US until one day her friends convinced her to apply with them for the Diversity Immigrant Visa program commonly known as a “green card lottery.” Liana was the only one among her friends who won.
Even though she arrived in the US on her birthday in 2013, she wasn’t greeted with celebrations. Instead many challenges awaited her before she could see the fireworks years later. Being an experienced video editor helped her find a job at a local Armenian TV station. Then she started to work as a photographer in weddings.
“I was all alone, new in a big city. Everyone tried to convince me that a photographer can only earn money by shooting special events like weddings,” says Liana, remembering the beginning of her career with a smile. The photos turned out great with very specific details that only a professional documental photographer could add.
But that wasn’t what Liana wanted. “I didn’t touch the camera for three years. It was hard. I needed to work, improve my English and find an apartment to live in,” she says, sharing her memories for a sure plan for success. Liana started to attend Glendale Community College and, not unexpectedly, a photography class was on her schedule.