Hungary as seen by an American photographer


Welcome again, Dear Reader! With my previous article – as we Hungarians say – I made a big splash with my account of my trip to the US, which you can read here. The experience was so fresh in my mind that the topic simply gave itself to me. But now I’d like to introduce myself. I live in Hungary and work as a marketing manager in a cultural centre, and I’m a second year student in Szeged, studying community organisation.

Image source: Judit Szőllősi

This was one of my inspirations when I contacted the Hungarian Hub. To describe the other one, I need to go back in time a bit, to the middle of the pandemic, to March 2021. My workplace, the Aba-Novák Agora Cultural Centre, is involved in organising events, exhibitions, training and other public cultural activities. We work with a wide range of partners to provide visitors with the highest quality cultural experience.

One of our partners has asked us about a project supervisor from the US who works as a photographer in his spare time and would like to offer us his pictures from Hungary. As our institution was also closed to visitors at that time, we had to discuss how we could cooperate, as one of our tasks is to support talent.

We were visited by the aforementioned American Franklin Ames and his Hungarian colleague Miklós Sándor, the idea owner. During a long conversation it turned out that he was thinking of an exhibition of Franklin’s photoes in Hungary. As the epidemic meant that we could only work online at the time, we were able to organise the exhibitions in this format. After clarifying this, we agreed that I would look at the photos and put together the material for the exhibition.

Then it occurred to me that we should somehow introduce the photographer, so we organised an interview, which we are now sharing here in both English and Hungarian. But first I offer Frank’s lines to the interview, as a preface:

Photos: Franklin Ames

 “Photography is my hobby and my passion, so when I first took the job in Hungary, I started researching the best spots for photos. I looked on Instagram and Location Scout and found that there were just so many beautiful places all over Hungary, and I planned to see them all!

My first weekend in Budapest was quite an adventure! I didn’t have a car yet, so I had to walk everywhere. This really wasn’t an issue for me because, as a photographer, the best way to see a new place is on foot. After checking into my airbnb, I grabbed my camera bag and headed out. I wanted to see how far it would be to get a picture of the sunrise over the Parliament building. I timed it at just about 30 minutes, so I knew I had to be up early and on my way to catch the sunrise. At this time I was experimenting with lensball photography and I managed to get a pretty good picture of Parliament through my crystal ball.

Being in a city like Budapest, one bursting with old world culture and architecture was a dream come true for me! So many great places for photography! Bridges, cathedrals, old streets and trolley lines; I was almost overwhelmed by it all! There were so many places I wanted to see that I started reserveing my airbnb every weekend for months in advance. It was right on Vaci Street which would be teeming with people during the day, but deserted at night because of the covid curfew. This turned out to be both a blessing and a curse as I didn’t have to wait long for there to be no people in my pictures, but all the businesses were closed and it was getting difficult to find a restauranteven for take away. 

I was fortunate enough to get pictures of The Chain Bridge before it was closed for renovations. I can say I have walked across every bridge that spans the Duna (Danube) and they are all beautiful!

I hope to see you again next time, so that you can get to know another side of Hungary and its many stories through Frank’s pictures. Happy memories or sometimes more serious ones that show that photography is sometimes not so easy. I’ll wait for you to come back and let you enjoy these pictures. I wish you all the best until we meet again!

Photos: Franklin Ames

You can find more beautiful photos from Hungary on Frank’s instagram account HERE.

The author of the article is Judit Szőllősi.

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