A fine, self-taught, fine arts photographer

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

I should no longer be surprised, but I am every time I discover another connection between people who are continents apart from each other. For example, Susanna and I met Georgian photographer Gia Chkhatarashvili at a Christmas bazaar at the Sheraton Hotel in Tbilisi a couple of weeks ago. Only a couple of months earlier, Gia had a photo exhibition at the Vermont Center for Photography. Susanna’s mother, Edith Schisler, lives in Vermont and may have viewed Gia’s exhibition.

Following up on our chance meeting at the bazaar, I visited Gia at his photography studio. Gia is probably one of the last photographers in Georgia to shoot black-and-white film; then develop it; and use an enlarger to make prints. He loves to make silver prints of people in mountainous Svaneti, and other people appreciate these black-and-white photos. For example, in 2004, Gia won the prestigious prize for “Social Change Photography” from the Fifty Crows International Foundation for Documentary Photography in San Francisco. His winning series of images was called “Ushguli- a Village at a crossroad;” Ushghuli is the highest inhabited village in Europe.

Although Gia loves black-and-white, hand-made photographs, he earns much of his money from color panoramic images. In the photo you can see his panoramic camera. After exposing his film, Gia scans the negatives to create a digital file, and then he uses a commercial-quality printer to make beautiful panoramic images.

I hope that we’ll be able to work on a project together before I return to Columbia, SC.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

2 Responses to A fine, self-taught, fine arts photographer

  1. olli says:

    Greetings Keith. I came across your blog today via another Irish expat in Tbilisi when we were having our St Patricks Day brunch.

    I’m looking forward to reading back over your posts on Tbilisi and Georgia.

    We also discovered Gia at the IWA Christmas Bazaar, though the previous years event and bought one of his beautiful tones Tbilisi panoramas. What we like is that Gia has images taken before some of the more intrusive constructions went up around the centre.

    Will you be posting more images from your travels around Georgia?

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