“I often feel like a collector of magic photographic fluids and metaphysical moments in eternal quest for the simple and clear pictures of the universal memory.”
Max Juhasz (born in 1967) is a contemporary photographer who currently lives in Zagreb (Croatia). When it comes to photography he’s self-taught. He’s represented by the collective “Contemporary Croatian Photography”.
“After the loss of the family photos during the war, I decided to fill the black hole of introspection, which had gotten deeper and deeper as time had passed, with new photos, filtered through the prism of my own microcosm and my personal vision of the world around me. Photography is my passion, which constantly makes me accumulate, like a collector, the pictures I am missing, and new pictures which deserve to be preserved.”
Interview with Max Juhasz
Max, what was your most memorable moment shooting pictures?
The moments when I felt or saw a good photograph, but for some reason didn’t capture it.
Why did you become a photographer?
The circumstances took care of that. I started photographing in 1991. In a war for Croatian independence, as a photo-documentarist of war events in my unit, with photographing experience that consisted of barely read manual for beginners in photography and two exposed films.
What does photography mean to you and what do you want to say with your pictures?
I’ve been attached to photography ever since I was a kid even though, in my boyish years I wasn’t interested in the act of photographing. The subject of my interest, back then, was a big box with family photos. I loved those photos, I enjoyed browsing through them, and loved sorting them into groups that made sense only to me. Those were my first photography steps.
Considering that I lost all those photographs in war, I had nothing left to do but to create my visual world all over again. So, on one side, what I look for in my photographs is introspective nature with roots that go all the way into my childhood and that is what I would call my yin, while on the other side, my yang is the ephemeral of the urban scenes and estrangement of caught moments. A certain extraversion caused by my reporting start in photography, I believe.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Josef Sudek, an author who was completely dedicated to his photography maybe influenced on my photographic yin the most. But, Josef Koudelka and André Kertész definitely left a mark on my yang.
“I would like to see everything, look at everything, I want to be the view itself.”
What’s your favorite photography quote?
It’s not enough to have talent, you also have to be Hungarian. Robert Capa
There are a lot of serious and deep quotes by great photographers but not so much the humorous ones. I chose this one from Robert Capa, after all, I wouldn’t quote him if I weren’t Hungarian myself.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
I often feel like a collector of magic photographic fluids and metaphysical moments in eternal quest for the simple and clear pictures of the universal memory.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic voice?
In my photographic beginnings, an older photographer, a student of “Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts (Prague)” FAMU, who personally knew Josef Sudek, once told me:
“Be careful of what you watch, what you read and what you listen to. Rely on yourself and your inner voice.”
I somehow believe those were the Sudek’s transferred words.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
I carefully pick what I watch, read and listen to. The rest comes by itself.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I work with only black and white films which I develop myself. The photographs (gelatin silver prints) are made by my friend and a great printer in Prague, by classic hand-made process in a darkroom. The film is still my only choice and I believe it’ll always be. At least while it’ll be for sales.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
Ego on minimum and patience, a lot of work and studying on maximum.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes? Especially keeping in mind the over abundance of photographic imagery in today’s society.
It’s all very subjective. We’re witnesses how, nowadays, at time of photographic overproduction, a lot of photographs are made, but those that overwhelm me so much that I can’t forget them, unfortunately, are the least.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
For photographing I use cheap, medium format TLR cameras and also used 35mm rangefinder cameras with 28mm lens for street scenes. The most important is the equipment which consists of a quality light meter and good shoes.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
There are a lot of interesting and informative web pages, but I don’t have a favorite one. I prefer books.
What photography book would you recommend?
The first book which, at the beginning of my active photographing, confirmed that the photography is much more than what we see on the paper is the book called “On Photography” by Susan Sontag. After that, Roland Barthes, Vilem Flusser but many other theorists too, have helped me in photographing, with of course, considerable number of some great monographs from different photographers that I buy whenever I can.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?
Be prepared to sacrifice a lot.