Harry Koundakjian was born December 4, 1930 in Aleppo, Syria, to Genocide survivors from Hasan Beyli. He apprenticed at Hamoud’s photo shop in Aleppo, Syria, taking photos at weddings and cocktail receptions after school. He then moved to Beirut, Lebanon, and worked at Derounian’s photo studio as a darkroom operator.
Harry began his professional career as a photographer in 1952, at the Lebanese French-language L’Orient and its Arabic equivalent Jarida. By the age of 25, he held his first exhibit at the Memorial Library Gallery at the American University of Beirut. His reputation growing, he became a stringer photo contributor to Agence Dalmas and Keystone photo agencies, and a freelancer for The Associated Press.
His work was published in Time and Life, the Illustrated London News, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, The Economist, The Manchester Guardian, Paris Match, France Soir, and Middle East papers Aztag Daily, Dar Assayyad, Al Jamhour al Jadid, Magazine and Al Ousbouh al Arabi.
Harry joined AP as a full time staff member in 1966 and rose to Middle East Chief Supervising Photographer-Photo Editor in 1974. From 1979 to his retirement in 2007, he joined the top photo editors in AP’s headquarters in New York City.
Harry ‘s work was recognized by the prestigious World Press Photo award in 1962 and the coveted AP Managing Editors Award in 1971.
His work was shown in many exhibits in various Armenian and United States venues, including a 50 year retrospective at Haigazian University, in Beirut, Lebanon, for reporting wars, famines, floods, earthquakes, political upheavals and other crises in 22 countries.
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Greater House of Cilicia honored him with an encyclical and the Mesrob Mashdotz medal in 2006.
Harry died in April 2014 in New York City.