Studio visit and interview by Artig Gallery

Artig Gallery visits my studio!

Art Magazine – Analogue Photography by Csilla Szabó

Artig Gallery visits Csilla Szabo in her studio for an interview in Berlin in 2016 © Csilla Szabo Photography

Why and how did you fell in love with photography?

When I was around 23-24 years old I felt a needed a change in my life. I wanted to do something different with a meaning for me. Therefore I decided to fly to Japan & South Korea to figure out what I wanted to do. 

The cultural and scenery was so different, I couldn’t stop taking pictures with a small digital camara I bought there. I was so inspired, that when I arrived to Hungary I decided to enrol myself to a photo school. Later on, I had the chance to start working with Jeff Cowen who only worked with analog, and it was then when my passion went to the surface.

What is the first picture you shot?

The first analog picture I took was while I was still studying photography in a trip we did to a castle in Budapest where I took several close ups. I didn’t even know how to put the film into the camera, but I remember my excitement to take a picture I couldn’t directly see the results but had to wait to develop the negatives. 

Artig Gallery visits Csilla Szabo in her darkroom in Berlin in 2016 © Csilla Szabo Photography

Why analog photography in a completely digital world? What do you think is the difference between these two worlds?

First of all, just want to clarify I’m not against digital photography. I believe this is necessary and makes sense for many areas as product photography, journalism, advertisement etc… 

Nevertheless I understand artistic photography a bit as people could see a painting. I mean, if we look back, in times where photography didn´t exist, kings, nobles etc.. asked for painted portraits to represent the reality. I believe analog has the same artistic meaning, it´s just the next step of painting evolution.

I personally love analog photography because of the grain in the picture. It is this beautiful pattern that obsesses me, together of course with the whole manual process of the development with the several chemicals, the rubber gloves, in the dark, rolling the paper… – I would not want to change it to sitting in front of a computer screen!

In analog pictures, you really need to think before you shoot. There are not so many tries and I really take a lot of time to think what I want to have, how to crop it etc…because the process until the final art piece is done will be rather slow. 

Artig Gallery visits Csilla Szabo in her studio in Berlin in 2016 © Csilla Szabo Photography

How was it working with a known artist like Jeff Cowen ? What did you learn from him?

He was a perfect coincidence, he appeared in my life at a I really needed it. With Jeff I was able to get deep in the analog photography, to understand his technics and appreciate the freedom how he is able to use the tools. 

I could basically summarize my learnings in two: Technical and Wisdom

With this I mean, not accepting anything that’s below perfect but always with a playfull attitude and remaining inventive, how to treat technically the negatives and edit the upcoming work, how to never be lazy with the archaic of the chemicals, why it´s important to always listen to your  intuition, how to balance your eye and inner-sense, and how to select my pictures ruthlessly, using only the few strongest shots instead of many mediocre ones.

Jeff was my main mentor and with him I understood that in visual art, the art goes above the concept and how important is to work hard is but also be able to slow down and take some space back to be able to see the art with a different angle. 

Why is your photographic work based on portraying inanimate objects? Would you encourage to make a series of portraits?

Actually, this is a funny question. I got the camera as a present from Jeff and at that time I was a very shy person, actually too shy to go out and inspire myself. That´s why I preferred to shoot at the studio, where I could focus on the product and the camera. 

Through the years, it’s not the shyness anymore and I now I also enjoy shooting outside the studio but my interest remains in the abstract and that´s why I transform nature to inanimate products and scenes. I’m all about abstraction, let my subjects be objects or nature, so Portraits not for now, but later on, who knows! 😉

Who is the photographer who admire the most?

Lee Miller –for her amazing life as a photographer in an amazing time in (art) history.

What famous photo you change your life?

The Rayograms of Man Ray – I’m already working on exciting new ways of manipulating pictures on the analog way and I’m planning on doing even more in the future.

Artig Gallery visits Csilla Szabo in her darkroom in Berlin in 2016 © Csilla Szabo Photography

Direct questions

What did you have for breakfast today?

A coffee and a cigarette.

Do you have a hideaway in Berlin?

Some spots next to the canal 

Who is your hero?

Jeff Cowen

What would surprise people to know about you?

I nearly didn’t pass my practical photography exam before graduating and now I could actually teach there!

What is your personal luxury?

Photography supply

Your favourite artistic movement?

Avanguard Czech movement

Your 3 favorite photographers? 

Eugen Wiskovsky, Margaret Bourke-White, László Moholy-Nagy

When do you create your best work?

In the dark, in the night and with music

Who inspires you?

Can be anything. It’s very special things that I find on the way and I suddenly need to stop to take it to the studio or take a picture there.

Describe your artistic style in 3 words:

Abstract, patterns, light

Which advice would you give someone who is just starting his or her artistic career?

Work hard, for yourself (in your little bubble without the outside voices). Nobody will spend so much time and attention as you in your work, so don´t be afraid and be your own judge.