Candid Photography Captures the Spirit of Urban Life in Budapest

The candid street shots that make up A Stray Ghost and Other Stories are taken in situ over the course of three years, in the “beautiful, unique, but sometimes wild, crazy and heartless place: the city of Budapest.” With a summary like that, the Hungarian documentary and fine-art photographer responsible for the moving set, Tamás Andok, is clearly one with a nose for urban adventure, and an affection for his nation’s capital.

01 The Pale Lights_Tamas-Andok
02 Henry or Hank-Tamas-Andok
03 Black Flag-Tamas-Andok

Tamás started off his artistic trajectory with videos, slipping into the experimentation afforded by analogue photography around the age of 17, when he picked it up as a form of art therapy. “It was better than any kind of school,” he tells us, when we discuss the learning curve on which his work took him; the way he related to the world around him during this difficult period of his life was, for Tamás, significantly shaped by his work behind the camera. It’s left him with an artistic aesthetic that seeks out the voices of the streets around him, allowing them to speak by pitching his monochrome series as a “collection of visual short stories”.

04 Photosynthesis-Tamas-Andok

His work has rightly have piqued the interest of publications, magazines, and music labels worldwide. We wanted to get a snapshot of the life of the photographer himself.

THE PLUS: You talk about your photos letting the voices or cities speak – what do you like about listening to a city?
Tamás Andok:
The voices of a city are always interesting. From a remote viewpoint it seems like a huge cacophony, and every city – or every part of these cities – has got its own voice, its own moods. Even the smaller or bigger cities.

05 Ivory Nights-Tamas-Andok

TP: What sort of variation in these voices do you notice, as a street photographer?
They are different during the day: sometimes Sunday is calm, everything is silent and peaceful, but on Tuesday morning it’s crowded and loud. But there are always interesting voices, and unique stories.

TP: The series is very urban: are you more of a city-lover or a country guy?
In urban areas I’ll yearn to be in the country-side, in nature, sometimes it’s really torturous. But in the country after a while I start looking forward to going back the city. It’s a never-ending circle.

06  After all these years-Tamas-Andok

TP: What’s the hardest thing you find about street photography?
If you find your own voice and style, there is nothing hard about it. Or, you learn to enjoy the harder things too: the searching, and exploring, and waiting.

TP: Are you able to define your work for us?
Once somebody said to me that ‘these images are not realistic enough for photojournalism, but they are also not imaginative enough for fine art’, so I guess I fall between these two. The best definition I ever got was ‘magic realism’.

07 Billy-Tamas-Andok

TP: The images are candid and observational – are you more of an observed in life, generally?
I’m more of an observer. This kind of photography teaches you how to observe, to watch, and to listen; to find the tiny connections, processes, and details in the world, or in humans.

TP: What advice would you give someone suffering from creative block?
No worries, be cool and patient, there are always ups and downs. It’s not a big deal, do something else.

TP: And any artistic advice you wish you’d ignored?
Be open, but careful with all the advice you receive; people always like to stick their nose into someone else’s business.

08 Long time in silence-Tamas-Andok
09 And what if he dies-Tamas-Andok
10 Painted Scenery-Tamas-Andok
11 Gently as she goes-Tamas-Andok
12 Sleepwalk city-Tamas-Andok
13 The boy's own story-Tamas-Andok
14 Warm your hands-Tamas-Andok
15 Sky burial-Tamas-Andok
16 After the flood-Tamas-Andok
17 Narrow margins-Tamas-Andok
18 Stay September!-Tamas-Andok
20 The Maltese-Tamas-Andok
21 Hey Saturday sun-Tamas-Andok
22 Mishmash-Tamas-Andok
23 Protagonist of Albert Camus-Tamas-Andok
24 Woyzeck-Tamas-Andok
25 Stray Ghost-Tamas-Andok
26 Phantom of us-Tamas-Andok
27 Into the well-Tamas-Andok
28 A somewhere place-Tamas-Andok
29 I remember that hot day in June-Tamas-Andok
30 Father-Tamas-Andok