TRF Exclusive Interview with Zohrab Markarian, Jordanian Royal Photographer
Zohrab Markarian was born in Amman in 1955. He won the grand prize in the “Jordanian Flowers” photography competition, which was under the patronage of Her Late Majesty Queen Alia. As the winner, he was appointed by both Their Late Majesties King Hussein and Queen Alia as the official photographer of the Hashemite Royal Family.
King Hussein wished to support Markarian’s career, and sent him to Germaine School for Photography in Manhattan, New York. Back in Jordan, Markarian journeyed the world with King Hussein and became the official Hashemite Palace Photographer for twenty-two years.
He has lived many moments with the Royal Family, and after King Hussein’s death in 1999, he has continued taking pictures of His Majesty King Abdullah II and his family.
In this interview, Mr Markarian talks about his relationship with the late King, his interest in photography and the role of a photographer on the view of royalty by the public.
Q: You worked for over two decades next to King Hussein, which allowed you to know him in depth. How do you describe him?
ZM: Great King, great human, great father.
Q: What feature did you most admire of King Hussein?
ZM: He was very humble; in an interview with CNN, I said ‘King Hussein was not normal human, like me and you, and he wasn’t a prophet, all the world lost him and not just Jordan’, if he was alive I’m sure the Middle East would be more peaceful.
Q: Do you have any old anecdotes regarding the King?
ZM: I have twenty-two years of stories, memories. I am ready now to publish my story with King Hussein (Zohrab will published in the next months a book about his life with King Hussein). [One story is] When I had a problem with my wife, he came to my house to solve my problem. Too many stories, he was the most good human I have ever met, in an interview I said, ‘If God makes sure that I meet King Hussein, let god take my life now.’
Q: Could you tell us how you managed to become his personal photographer?
ZM: I forced my father to work as photographer. I believed it was the only possible way I could get close to him, I worked very hard to make sure he heard about me, I owe it all to the support of Queen Alia.
Q: What inspires you to take pictures?
ZM: I’m full of passion, if I don’t love the person or the place I’m photographing, I don’t feel the passion.
Q: How would you describe your life before and after meeting the King?
ZM: I loved King Hussein much more then my own family, now that I’m speaking about King Hussein I feel like crying.
Q: What did your the friendship with the King mean to you?
ZM: I lived with King Hussein more then I lived with my drunk father, who used to beat us every day until he died when I was 12. I learned everything from King Hussein.
Q: The sudden death of Queen Alia in a helicopter crash shocked the world’s press. How do you remember this day?
ZM: I was supposed to be with her, but was sick and that night when King Hussein announced the news, I was in shock and I had yellow eye, I had no energy, no immune system for two weeks.
Q: How do you remember Queen Alia?
ZM: Queen Alia was the most humble and close to people; she served the King and her family herself, she let all the servants go home in the afternoon so she could take care of the King and her family. She said once in an interview, “I became a Queen only because I married a great King.”
Q: The followers of royalty always see the things that regard royalty through the press or television. We would like to know how much of a part does the photographer play in this?
ZM: [It is a] Very, very important mission for the photographer; my love to King Hussein showed in the photos that reflects in the press. It’s a three way – photo-King-press. I say you have to love what you do to show [that] in your work, and I loved King Hussein, till now my photos make all Jordanians admire him even after thirteen years, for me he will always live in my heart and soul.
We would like to thank Mr Markarian for taking the time to grant us this interview.Filed under Jordan
Tagged Interview, King Hussein of Jordan, Zohrab Markarian.