How did you discover photography and how did you end up doing street photography?
Photography basically saved my life, quite unexpectedly, given that I didn’t know anything about it previously.
I studied international relations in university, and although I enjoyed learning about global affairs and different cultures, the jobs I could’ve taken – and the lifestyle they seemed to offer – didn’t interest me at all. I worked as a freelancer doing all sorts of things, waiting to find my true calling. As months and years passed by without any real progress, I started to feel more and more depressed.
Out of desperation, I decided that I should break away from the Western world, and embarked on a journey of self-exploration. I volunteered for a few months in Nepal in 2012, after which I finally realized that I don’t have to go down the route that society wished to force onto me. It was also here that my interest in photography started, but it was more about documenting my adventures.
The breakthrough came during my travels to Peru, where – thanks in large part to the work I did with teacher plants – I finally realized, that photography is something I deeply enjoy and should also build my career around. After returning home, I studied in schools and started taking pictures everywhere I went. I quickly realized that the state of mind and the experience street/travel photography provides is something that I can resonate with the most. Since then, my passion for photography has never left me.
Wow. That was quite a journey. So once you figured out your passion was for photography, what were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
There were two big challenges.
The first one was financial: how to make a living doing photography in Hungary. This I overcame partly by working diligently and focusing on getting better and more embedded in the local photography scene, and partly by finding other sources of income. The latter helped me to diversify my activities and I’m quite sure it also helped avoiding burnout in photography.
The second was artistic: how to find my own voice and style, because for a long time, I was unconsciously trying to mimic my idols. This leads to a lot of inevitable disappointments and confusion, but it is also a natural process everybody has to experience. The only way to overcome it is by practice. You have the shoot a lot, and slowly you’ll be able to notice what your eyes are drawn to and what style and look comes natural for you.
I think many street photographers can relate. And that’s a great way to explain the stages of finding your own style. It definitely takes time.
So, Budapest is your home base. Do you recommend your home city as a good place for street photographers to visit?
Definitely. Budapest is an excellent place for street photography. The architecture is wonderful and quite diverse. It resembles Paris with a raw, Eastern European touch. The remnants of communism with its Soviet-style buildings are also there, mixed with new gems of modern architecture.
Given that Budapest is quite popular with tourists and expats alike, the people you can capture on the streets are quite colorful too. The blending of so many different cultures and mentalities results in very unexpected scenes and exciting serendipities.
Although for me as a local, it is always a bit more difficult to be a wanderer in my own city, I love doing street here myself. I also have favourite places to shoot in the city, I’m happy to provide recommendations for those interested.
I’m sure anyone planning a trip to Budapest will be in touch!
Of course, you still travel a lot. And it looks like Japan was a special trip. Your photos turned out amazing.
How long did you stay and what do you think is unique about street photography in Japan?
I went there with a tourist visa, which granted me 3 months of stay in the country.
Japan is a great place for photography, because visually it is extremely rich and different from what people from other countries are used to. Taking pictures there was also a constant flow of discovery. Street photography is a wonderful way for observing your surroundings and the people in it. This is true not only abroad, but even at home. Also, locals didn’t seem to be as sensitive to being photographed as in Europe, for instance. Or they are just too shy and polite to let you know.
Haha, could be. What was your favorite moment from your trip there?
My favourite moments included having dinners with my host family in Osaka, and enjoying fried chicken from a convenient store called Lawson, and a weirdly-named soda, Pocari Sweat. I was addicted to them.
So you stayed with a host family in Japan? That sounds like a fascinating experience. Would you say it helps you understand the culture of a new place faster?
When I travel for a long time, I always try to get to know the culture better. Staying with a host family is a wonderful entry into this, and I try to find one almost everywhere I go. You get a glimpse into the everyday lives of local people, the ones who are open enough to receive tourists.
Hostels are great too, because you are never really alone, and you might meet wonderful people with amazing stories and who, more often than not, can also give you great recommendations.
Sounds like a good way to travel. And thank you for sharing your photos of Japan with us. Before we go, I have a few questions for you about some of your other photographic endeavors.
You invest a lot of time into your facebook groups and podcast. Why? What do you enjoy most about creating/curating?
The short answer is that I get the most joy out of doing these things.
I curate a page called wonderzofphotography, which is a Facebook/Instagram page spreading the word about the art of photography for an international audience with daily, quality posts. Its sister site, wonderzofpainting does the same, but with paintings. A podcast also grew out of these, in which I interview the best, most exciting figures in Hungarian contemporary photography.
These are my pet projects I pursue passionately for two main reasons: First, I have always loved sharing things with people, offering inspiration and knowledge. I’ve enjoyed doing this my whole life, from a very early age.
Second, they bring wonderful things to me. Inspiration, new connections, experience and joy. I honestly can’t wait every day to get out of bed and schedule some new posts on these pages.
Do you think community is important for street photographers? It can be a solitary endeavour at times. Has community helped your photography in any way?
Human beings are social animals. We need connections and a sense of belonging, so communities are important for all of us. But yes, I feel the need to have a community in street photography as well because this is such a special adventure. If you are an enthusiastic street photographer, you will have a lot of thoughts and experiences only other street photographers will understand. It’s nice to be able to share this joy with others.