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See reflections of Budapest life by photographer Tamás Andok

As a transplant to Budapest from a faraway Hungarian town, Tamás Andok sees our stunning city from a different perspective when he restlessly roams the roads of the Magyar metropolis, seeking interesting scenarios to capture. His poetic and timeless pictures already aroused the interest of foreign photographers from Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Spain, and South America. Even though Tamás still considers himself an amateur, his fantastic photographs speak for themselves. We were glad to interview Tamás to find out more about his unique approach to his “hobby”.

We Love Budapest: Like many other people, you moved to Budapest from another Hungarian town, and see the city from a different perspective. How did you become a Budapest street photographer?

Tamás Andok: I grew up in Pécs, and studied communications there. I entered the cultural scene as an online journalist, but I worked in sales, PR, and as a lyrics writer, too. If you are a street photographer you soon outgrow Pécs; so I changed professions, and moved to District VI of Budapest.

WLB: Did you have specific career plans as a photographer when you moved?

T.A.: I was highly curious; I thought of it as a challenge to fit in. I had project plans for one-and-a-half or two years. Just to mention an example, I obviously wanted to feature the Danube somehow in my work, too, so I divided the two sides into four sections and seasons.

WLB: How do you work?

T.A.: I had constantly been strolling the streets for one and a half years. In the weekends I used to get up really early, and walked as far as I could, but this “aimless” wandering can be truly tiring. After some time I adapted the work process of a photographer acquaintance from Istanbul; I picked a district, and walked around consciously, taking notes of everywhere I went.

WLB: Despite all of that, it is hard to identify where many of your photographs were taken; the locations are hard to recognize.

T.A.: True, that derives from my style and point of view. But just like many other photographers, I have a few places that keep coming back in my photos.

WLB: A great number of literary and musical motifs also return regularly.

T.A.: Yeah, this is my main connection. Even the titles of my photos generally refer to songs, books, or lyrics.

WLB: Do you listen to music while you’re out taking photographs?

T.A.: Yes, typically. Although, even when I walk with someone, I constantly keep seeking scenarios, and this restlessness might be a bit tiring for anyone walking by my side. (laughs)

WLB: How did you start shooting?

T.A.: I was around 20, and began experimenting with a digital camera, and later I got a smartphone. The whole process was a long learning period; initially, I sought out analog effects, terrible and awful textures, trying to create a visual language that I saw in the works of old cameramen. Eventually, after all the time spent experimenting with analog, I finally picked up on it.

WLB: What do you work with at the moment?

T.A.: Almost all the time I take street photos with a smartphone. It suitably substitutes small cameras, and gives me a truly inspiring freedom. It is a slightly disdained method, but just as the collaboration of We Love Budapest and the Capa Center shows, smartphone photography is becoming more and more popular and recognized.

WLB: Did you shoot with analog, too?

T.A.: Yes, in the beginning I mainly used analog. I gained lots of experience; obviously it had some disadvantages as well, but you are a lot more cautious with analog, so your pictures become more purposeful.

WLB: What are you working on at the moment?

T.A.: I have a few ideas that direct me towards the world of theaters, and some project plans on the edge of witty, absurd, Örkény-like humor {ed. note:

Hungarian writer István Örkény was a pioneer of absurdist literature}.

WLB: Are you building your work up strategically?
T.A.: Only the basics; I’m on Facebook and Behance, and have a website, too, but I wouldn’t like to quit my job. I agree with André Kertész in that as an amateur I can do whatever I want, as I do not depend on photography financially. However, it is very interesting that through the sites, mainly foreign photographers find me; Polish, Czechs, Japanese, Spanish, and South Americans, and I mostly work with foreign record labels and book publishers.
WLB: What do you think of Budapest?

T.A.: Sometimes I like it, other times I would like to get away, but I always find something that soothes me. I love excursions, and I have recently gotten into wall climbing, and things like that.

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