Interview with Istvan Kerekes from Hungary – 1st Place in The Documentary and Street Category at B&W CHILD 2016, First Half

12 mins read


Istvan Kerekes is talented photographer from Hungary who has been participating in B&W CHILD PHOTO COMPETITION in the last few years. His work was always very well noticed on our competitions and this year he won the 1st Place in the Documentary and Street Category! 

Q: Congratulations Istvan! You took 1st Place in The Documentary & Street category in The First Half of B&W CHILD 2016 PHOTO COMPETITION! How does it feel to be a winner?

A: A very good feeling! It feels great to win category 1st prize at such a prestigious contest.

Q: What do you think of winners and finalists of The First Half of B&W CHILD 2016? Any particular photo or photographer you like this year?

A: Really unique pictures, with great impact … this year no, I’d not pick one photo or photographer …, but last year,  some photos of Chee Keong Lim from Malaysia left huge impression on me (Prying, Going home, Muddy football, Reading).

Q: Your winning photograph “Life in Balkan” is very captivating and has a lot of story in it. Can you tell us a bit more about the plot? How, when and why did you create this photograph?

A: I took the picture in June, 2015  in a former mining city in south Romania. In the communist regime, the Romanian dictator Ceausescu built here the biggest mining quarter in Romania. 26 years later, after falling of the communist regime … this is the vision I had: playful children swinging in front of an partially abandoned block of flats. A raw Balkan style playground. BUT, on the other side,  these children are very happy and feel very good. They are in the middle of the world and this is how they home look like.  Today, in this area the poverty and the unemployment  is very high. In years to come, many of these children will be beggars. Through this picture I wanted to show how life does it look like today in this area. I have a project which I started 2 years ago and  still working on it. This project is about every day life in the former mining cities in Romania.

Documentary child photography
“Life in Balkan” by Istvan Kerekes, Hungary – 1st Place in The Documentary and Street Category | B&W CHILD 2016, First Half

Q: So, how is life in Balkan?

A: I don’t know how is life in the rest of the Balkan,  I know only how is the life in the Balkan region of Romania because I spend a lot of my time taking photographs in Romania. In Romania, the opinions are divided. For me it’s a place with big impact, because in many places the poverty is high, but the soul of the simple people who live here is huge. In many places, the effects of modern wold are less present in the lives of their inhabitants.

"Life in Balkan" by Istvan Kerekes, Hungary - 2nd Place in The Documentary and Street Category | B&W CHILD 2015, Second Half
“Life in Balkan” by Istvan Kerekes, Hungary – 2nd Place in The Documentary and Street Category | B&W CHILD 2015, Second Half

Q: Can you tell us more about yourself? Who is Istvan Kerekes?

A: Istvan Kerekes is a teacher and freelance photographer who was born in 1977 in Targu Mures city, Transylvania (region of Romania). I lived in Romania for 30 years. For the last 10 years I live in Hungary.  I photograph mostly portraits, social life and nature photos.

I am proud of my achievement in the art of photography the FIAP (Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique). They gave me the EFIAP/platinum distinction. I am the first Hungarian who got this distinction (2012) and the world youngest photographer who holds the EFIAP/p. With my most valuable picture “Yelena” from 2010 February to this day I won 227 prizes in 37 countries / 5 continents – Unique record result in the life of the Hungarian photography of all time. A very very important thing: I do not have a Facebook site, and I have never had one !!! In Hungary, there is 4 photographers called Kerekes Istvan !!! They all have Facebook page. I don’t!  So, if anyone is interested to see my pictures, I have only one webpage: www.kerekesistvan.com

portrait of little girl Yelena
“Yelena” by Istvan Kerekes – Nominee at B&W CHILD 2015, First Half

Q: How did you find photography? What is that one thing that makes you fall in love with it again and again?

A: When I was a child, my parents did hiking every weekend and they took me to go with them. Later on, I walked the fields and forests with my childhood friends and became very interested in the wonderful world of nature. Most of my friends are ornithologists, biologists and environmental experts. Therefore, hiking and the love for nature pervaded me in my childhood and adolescent years. I started photography to document hiking at weekends, and one or two interesting moments I’d saw in nature along the way.

In 1997, I decided I should do photography more seriously. I was eager to show the wonders of the nature I’ve seen at my weekend hikings to the people around me. Until 2000 I actually photographed only nature. But, while I was walking the nature at that time, I came across many interesting and unique social photo and portrait themes, which were worth shooting. So in the beginning of the 2000s I gradually started doing social and portrait photography as well and I became successful very soon both: at national and international level. I fell in love with social and portrait photography so much that the balance is tilted now in favor of these fields …

Interview with Hungarian photographer Istvan Kerekes
“Face” by Istvan Kerekes – Nominee in The Second Half of B&W CHILD 2015

Q: Why documentary photography?

A: Because I like to capture the human fates. I talk to people, I try to understand people’s thoughts. Human destinies are written on their faces …

Q: What are the few things you have learnt while being documentary photographer?

A: To appreciate my life … the situations … to know the really life in the different social classes.

Woodcutters home

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your workflow? 

A: Every time is different. Sometimes I am thinking and planning what I will photograph, and some other times,  the theme happens in front of me and I document it.

Documentary child photography
“Lightbar” by Istvan Kerekes

Q: What equipment do you use?

A: Camera: Nikon D3, lens: Nikkor 24-120mm and Nikkor 80-400mm

Portrait of a young girl
“Katryna” by Istvan Kerekes

Q:  Do you travel worldwide to take photographs or you are rather local photographer?

A: Majority of my social life and portrait pictures (about 90%) I take in Romania.

Q: Are you a full time photographer?

A: No, I am not a full time photographer. My official education and qualifications are in physical education, so I work as a physical education teacher. But for me, the most important think is the photography. It’s my life calling.

Social portraits by Istvan Kerekes
“Best friends” by Istvan Kerekes

Q: Can you tell us why it’s so important to take part in the quality photography contests?

A: In my opinion, a quality contest is a great challenge for every photographer. I think photography contests push us forward, inspire us to make new and unique photos, with innovative ideas … I learn very much from the contests … The most important thing for me is this: I am very determined from the very beginning not to copy others with any of my work.  I try not to create similar or the same photo that someone else did before me. I strive to develop a completely unique point of view and the world of unique images and thoughts.

So, if I feel that the theme is good for me, I send my photos in the contests. It is a real challenge.

Interview with Istvan Kerekes

Q: What would be your message to other photographers?

A: I have a message for those who  are starting out photography and competitions. First thing: decide what is your goal in photography and what do you want to achieve by participating in the competitions. I advice you to follow up with the state of today’s photography. For example, see what were trends in The First Half B&W CHILD 2016. Watch carefully and think about it. Observe carefully,  but never copy or do the same. Trends are here to inspire us, to make us think from a unique viewpoint, out of the box, so as a result we can create our own unique photographs. You should experiment a lot, as the persistent work will bring it’s fruit sooner or later. A few years later,  viewers will recognize the photographer’s hallmark while looking at their work.


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