Database of Armenian photo-media practioners

Tanfel Borisovich Bakman

1907 - ?

1940 - 1970s

Tanfel Bakman is known for his photographic albums and postcards of Soviet cities, which were released by various publishers in the USSR during the 1950s and 1970s. The enormous editions of these publications by the biggest publishers from Moscow and Leningrad were distributed across all Soviet Republics as well as overseas. Despite his prolific activity, Bakman's name is almost forgotten today and we have been unable to find any bibliographical mentions of the photographer. It is known that Bakman was in Leningrad during the German blockade and fought on the frontlines of WWII. He managed to create a series of searingly realistic documentary photographs that depicted the life of the besieged city. What brought the photographer recognition, however, were Bakman’s later architectural ‘portraits’ of Soviet cities that appeared as photographic albums. A renowned master of color photography, Bakman was often invited by ‘regional’ publishing houses in to portray some of the republican capitals.

The last of these ‘topographic’ portraits, and one of the most extensive, is devoted to Yerevan and was published by Hayastan publishing house in 1973. The album depicts the main streets of Yerevan, its prominent buildings and some of the tourist attractions near the city (Sevanavank monastery, Ararat Valley, Sardarapat Memorial, etc.). Bakman decided to shoot the city with a large-format, panoramic camera – something of a specialty for him – thus giving the album a distinctly cinematic feel. As in his other photo-albums, the photographer represents Armenia’s capital as a socialist arcadia adorned with beautiful edifices, vast urbanization projects and a peacefully thriving population. Clearly structured as a guide for a touristic gaze, the photographs put the emphasis on picturesque sights. These hyper-realistic images are characteristic of the last development stage of socialist-realist photography, in which the photographic image is not a reflection but an ideologically imposed paradigm.

This compilation of Bakman's technically brilliant photographs was a great success with Armenian public and tourists. It greatly aided the common perception of Yerevan as a perfect example of a successfully accomplished, revolutionary socialist project.






Stalingrad, Moscow


documentary, photo correspondent


analogue photography, photobook


Bakman, T. Moskva, album, Sovetskiy khudojnik, Moscow, 1967
Bakman, T. Ulyanovsk, rodina Lenina: fotopanoramy, Ulyanvosk branch of Privoljie book publishing, 1968
Bakman, T. Saratov, album, Privoljie book publishers, 1970
Bakman, T. Ulyanovsk, rodina Lenina: fotopanoramy, Ulyanvosk branch of Privoljie book publishing, 1971
Bakman, T. Yerevan, photo album, Hayastan publishers, Yerevan, 1973

Other images by this author