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Interview: Photographer Attila Hangyási (Hungary)

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I am 52 years old, divorced, living alone in a small town in Hungary. I am a freelance publication editor, advertising graphic designer, and product photographer. I am proficient in offset prepress graphics, but I have also designed web pages and designed many logos. I learned the basics of online marketing and was the manager, product photographer, creative advertising designer and marketer of several online stores.

How and when did you get into photography?

My uncle was a hobby photographer and I got my first camera from him when I was 6 years old, (Beirette SL 100). Later, when I was 7-8 years old, I was on my own in my own photo lab, developing negatives in the bathroom and enlarging paper pictures. At school events, I was often entrusted with the photography, and this was also the case later in high school. (This is the usual story) I loved photography, but I didn’t want to be a photographer. I am interested in drawing and graphics. I had many exhibitions of his graphics, published illustrations in literary magazines. Drawing and collage were my main artistic means of self expression. Photography also accompanied me, it was often part of my work. I didn’t even feel comfortable at a family event or a friend’s wedding if I didn’t have my camera with me. But photography always remained secondary. Then, with the spread of digital cameras and digital image editing becoming commonplace, I realized that photography is also suitable for my artistic self-expression. From then on, I didn’t just photograph weddings, I didn’t just photograph shoes for catalogs, I didn’t just take product photos, I didn’t just take cityscapes for tourist brochures. It has also become a tool for artistic creation.

What does photography mean to you?

My answer to this is completely clear and decisive: it is a means of artistic self-expression. Photography is image creation, storytelling. It is the communication channel of my inner thoughts and feelings. I use pictures to express my thoughts about the happenings of the outside world, the wisdom of life, myself and my opinion about others. During the photography, I met a lot of people I would have never met otherwise. I got into many events and concerts just because I had the one camera.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

The basic position is that I do not reflect reality with photography. I don’t depict my surroundings. Instead, I create an alternative reality through my images. Of course, the starting basis is provided by the elements of reality. But I reshape these elements of reality intensively. Similar to dreams, which, although they contain real episodes, are still completely autonomous and free associations. I consider association very important in visual communication.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

There are two basic sources of inspiration for every artist, the external (environment) and the internal (inside the head, in the soul). - Nature photographers record the view of the world in their pictures. Photojournalists, correspondents, action photographers also document the events of reality. They tell stories and inform with pictures. - In addition to this, there are those who want to show their own inner, spiritual visions to others through the camera. I rather belong to the latter. I would rather create a surreal, improbable world than just document my surroundings.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

I am qualified, but I am not a photography service provider. I’m not an industrialist. I don’t make a living from photography. I am basically a freelance visual artist. I can draw, paint and take photos. Within photography, I consider myself a well-educated and experienced amateur. I am a creative artist who likes to create creative images. I strive for the professional maximum in photography and I also strive to use as little post-processing as possible. Lighting and composition should be as perfect as possible before exposure.

Studio, on location or both?

Both. At first, of course, I didn’t have a studio and a lot of equipment, just an entry-level APSC camera and a reflector disc. At that time, I only took portraits of women outdoors in natural light. I really like special locations, abandoned factories, beautiful arboretums, iconic buildings. I don’t always depict these locations realistically, but it is important that the location has an inspiring effect on both the model and me. Later it was a challenge to learn z basic lighting using lights, flashes, light shapers. From then on, I also made portraits and still lifes in the studio. Almost all of my dramatic portraits of old people are taken in an apartment studio, because of the practical reasons why a studio is beneficial: there is controllable light, you can take photos regardless of the time of day, regardless of the season, permanence, etc.

Do you think in advance about what you want in the picture?

In most cases, I have an idea of what I want to create. I have a vision in my head. But I don’t stick rigidly to my own idea when creating images. The workflow, the variety of props, locations, opportunities and limitations, different stimuli all influence the process. I would say that I can see the distant goal, but I do not mark the path to the goal in advance. There are several routes to get to your destination. There are many good solutions for a visual idea. I do not rigidly decide which one to choose. I often improvise. I have a „tool box” that I always have with me. It says: experience, professional knowledge, luck.” I spontaneously use the „tools” from this toolkit. It is important that the scenery, the stage, and the basic setting are authentic. If a tree leaf is needed for the picture, I will manually place the tree leaf in its place, I will not paste it afterwards in PhotoShop. No. Have an authentic set. When, for example, the „Old Violinist” c. was shooting a picture, then I had an idea in my head that I wanted to show the haunted musicianship from the end of the violin, with a wide angle of view. However, my elderly model had never held a violin before and did not hold it authentically. So I looked for a feature film about Paganini on the Internet and we watched the whole movie together with the old man. We paused the photography, but the old man was so affected by the film and observed the details so much that he was able to hold the strings and the violin completely authentically later. In fact, on that shoot we also shot many excellent pictures that were not planned in advance.

Which was your most memorable occupation and why?

I once photographed a young woman whom I did not know before. He came from another city. She wanted me to take pictures of her pretty, in summer clothes, light, liberated, smiling, sunny. We met in a public park. We talked briefly and got to know each other a bit. I observe his movements, I observe his facial expressions and gestures. Everything was fine, there was harmony and sympathy. However, as soon as I started photographing her (my face disappeared behind the camera) and the lady became uncertain, she was „left alone” with the camera. His smile didn’t seem authentic, his mood was forced. I even stopped taking photos (I didn’t even take a single picture) and asked somewhat bluntly and forcefully: „What’s the problem? Are you an abused woman? Have you suffered any relationship trauma before?” My

question was a hit, the model started crying. His previous relationship was a failure. Distraught, he told his harrowing story. She left a bad relationship in which she was physically abused. She would have liked a light photo shoot, but she was still not over her own trauma. I noticed this and gently told him that this would not be a good photo shoot because his soul is not yet healthy. He’s emotionally hurt and he’s not well yet, he just wants to be well, he’s still recovering. „Then I can’t have my photo shoot now?” asked the lady sadly? She didn’t get left behind, because in her car, in the trunk, there was a torn, black Metallica T-shirt and a worn, stained, oily denim jacket. This was a perfect set. I sat the lady down on the ground and stood up towering over a street bench. We moistened her beautiful, long black hair with bottled mineral water. She shook her wet hair, which stuck to her face and shoulders. Of course, her make-up was also wet and smeared. Her face and gaze became beautiful and tragic. I took photos from above and asked her to play it, to pretend she wanted to get up from the ground after a big slap. „I’ve been beaten, but I’ll get up.” This became the spontaneous concept. After a few minutes of photography, the lady looked at the pictures on the camera display and was happy and grateful. This was exactly the image she wanted to see of herself, but even she herself could not imagine or formulate it. She felt that she had come precisely for these pictures. It wasn’t a paid photo shoot, I didn’t ask for money, but the lady was so excited that she bought my memory card from the camera right there. He paid the retail price of the card and took the RAW images. He didn’t want post-production, he didn’t want to publish them on social media, he didn’t want to show them to anyone. That’s when I understood how powerful and powerful photography is for a lay model. I knew that I would never see the lady again, nor the pictures taken of her, except for the one time when we looked back together on the screen of my camera. I will never forget it, because I have not done better portraits of women since then. (This was an extreme case. This should not be an example for anyone to follow. The situation could easily have turned into a scandal. Nobody should do this. )

Nikon or Canon?

- Audi or BMW car? - Punch or vanilla ice cream? - Blonde or red lady?

Basically, it doesn’t matter. :) I am not a fan of castes. Everyone finds their joy in a different brand. In the early 2000s, my workplace had Nikon cameras, which I used during the day (I was employed in an advertising graphics studio). After work and at weekends, I used Canon at home. Then, when I became self-employed, I switched to Nikon due to an order and had Nikon for years (APSC bodies). In April of this year, I finally bought a used Nikon D750 and I really like it. (Am I at least 8-9 years behind on technical innovations? Maybe.)

About MILCs, I think MILCs own the future. However, at present, they are still unaffordably expensive for me. Especially the price of MILC optics is horrific. (What I currently like about MILCs is that their spread lowers the price of used DSLR cameras and is therefore more accessible to me) - this is a selfish and subjective opinion, I know.

Regarding AI technology, I think that artificial intelligence will transform our visual culture. It will bring about at least as much change as the spread of photography compared to oil paintings 150 years ago. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. I have never used AI technology. I emphasize this because many people on social networking sites think that my pictures were taken with it. But not. I did not use AI software for any of my images, only PhotoShop, Camera Raw Filter and Silver Efex Pro 2 programs for B&W images. I have a PC and a Wacom digitizing drawing board and a very crappy old monitor. This monitor is the biggest drawback.

Favorite optics:

I will mention only three now and biasedly, subjectively: - Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G - Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Micro - Nikon AF-S 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED DX Zoom Good optics are much more important than the camera body, this is my experience.

What advice would you give to a new photographer who wants to start their own business?

I would advise you not to start a business. Create freely, but don’t want to make a lot of money from photography. The pursuit of money sooner or later turns every artist into a prostitute. Don’t sell yourself or your talent to anyone. Earn that much money with a successful technical or media business, and use the earned money to freely photograph and create in a professional quality. Money and art are not friends. They are like water and oil, dog and cat. For years, I tried unsuccessfully to make a lot of money with art and to make my well-paying but boring advertising graphic work artistic. Failed. Art is art, business, business. It cannot be that art is my job and art is my hobby. This is just a popular misconception. Existentially, this is sometimes a difficult thing, but I think it’s worth it. The end result is more authentic and honest if it has to meet our own expectations and we are not influenced by the desire for money.

What do you think of our new magazine?

There are wonderful creative fashion photos and glamour photos in the magazine by extremely talented and professional photographers. They are in stark contrast to my pictures. A spicy visual combination that I hope readers will like. I am curious and consider it an honor that my pictures can be here in the magazine. Thank you very much! It is an honor! (under construction and will be ready by June 1)

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