What is it about Hungarian Photographers?

I was working on our stand at a recent Summer fair in South London when I was approached by a delightful chap from the Ukraine, he was a photographer and wanted to talk about Nousha Photography, his English was not good so we struggled but his wife soon joined in, her English was excellent, my Ukrainian is sadly lacking!

As it turns out he was originally from Hungary I excitedly explained that my father was Hungarian and a photographer.

He looked at me and said was he a Jew? somewhat taken aback I said yes he was, he then said "there is something about Hungarian Jews and photography".

Tom Blau founder of Camera Press

Tom Blau founder of Camera Press

And it seems he is correct!

My father a Jewish Hungarian founded the photographic Press agency Camera Press in 1947.

He was a portrait photographer of major contemporary political figures, musicians and film stars and represented many important photographers among others Antony Armstrong-Jones, Patrick Lichfield, Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Thurston Hopkins and Yousuf Karsh.

I decided to look into this statement and it turns out one of my favourite photographers, Brassaï was a Hungarian-born French photographer

Brassaï-profile-555x312.jpg
Couple d'Amoureux dans un Petit Cafe, Quartier Italie , ca. 1932

Couple d'Amoureux dans un Petit Cafe, Quartier Italie, ca. 1932

as was the famous war photographer Robert Capa.

Normandy. June 6th, 1944. American troops landing on Omaha Beach, D-Day. Robert Capa © International Center of Photography

Normandy. June 6th, 1944. American troops landing on Omaha Beach, D-Day. Robert Capa © International Center of Photography

As it turns out there is also a thriving scene of contemporary Hungarian photographers.

It does seem strange for nationality to be attributed with such a characteristic as photography, but there it is, writer Arthur Koestler wrote : "Hungarians are the only people in Europe without racial or linguistic relatives… therefore they are the loneliest on this continent. This perhaps explains the peculiar intensity of their existence… hopeless solitude feeds their creativity."

I like to think that a little bit of my fathers Hungarian magic has rubbed off on me!