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Anthony Gezirjian

WPS Founding Father

Tony was born in 1930 to Armenian immigrant parents. Along with his two brothers and two sisters, the family resided in the Yonkers, NY area.  the age of twelve Tony began to develop his interest in photography. He purchased a camera and was able to process some of his negatives in his friend’s coat closet makeshift darkroom.

His parents discouraged Tony from formally pursuing a career in art, less he not be able to make his way in life. Tony complied and pursued schooling to become an electronic technician. His first paid job was as a technical draftsman. Tony rose to the position of project director where he wrote and illustrated technical manuals for the military. In 1954, Tony opened his own TV repair service while simultaneously continuing to work as a freelance technical illustrator. Tony’s attention to detail and draftsman skill would be applied successfully in his avocation – photography.

Tony began to display a serious interest in photography, in the early 1950s, after meeting Tom Heneghan, a local professional photographer. They became fast friends. The pursuit of this avocation was interrupted when Tony was then called into the service. After fulfilling his service obligation, Tony return home in 1957and reconnected with a friend Tom, who had continued forming a nexus photography interest group. This loose knit group had come to refer to themselves as the Studio Boys, as they were hobbyists who liked working in the darkroom. Now, this group of friends decided to take their passion to the next level. Together, they created a formal entity dubbing themselves the “Yonkers Studio Guild Camera Club.

For a number of years, they met in local churches. In the early 1960s they found a more permanent home at the Hudson River Museum. Tony was instrumental in working out the arrangements between the club and the museum. The club worked out an amiable relationship with the museum. The built, stocked and ran a darkroom on the premises. Members of the club provided instruction on photography and darkroom skills to other members and to citizens in the community. This commitment of engendering a reciprocal relationship led to Tony referencing the club’s activities as “photography with a purpose.” This moniker would become an important aspect of the club’s identification.

By the late 1970s, political changes in the city of Yonkers impacted the museum and its relationship with the club. New arrangements needed to be made. Tony worked with a club member Dick Sternschuss who had a connection with key personal at the Westchester Community College (WCC). In the closing months of 1978, Tony, Dick and several others formalized a relationship with WCC, officially became a non-profit and renamed themselves the Westchester Photographic Society.

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