A Personal Journey

My decades long photographic career has been a journey that began as a child growing up in Budapest, Hungary where my father, and role model, was an avid and well-respected photographer. Despite his career as a chemist in the leather industry, Dad had a very strong background in the arts and possessed a keen interest in photography and darkroom printing. He loved taking his camera onto the streets of Budapest to photograph, today a practice known
as street photography. As a child, I remember following along with him, then hurrying back to his darkroom to develop the film. My father was a talented and exquisite printer which earned him a great deal of respect within the photographic circles of Budapest.

I was allowed to help him in the darkroom where I was entrusted with the important task of washing beakers and heavy porcelain developing trays. Gradually, I moved on to polishing ferrotype plates as well. Once I had proven myself a good assistant, he allowed me to watch him print which was my first lesson in photography. Strange as it may seem, I learned to print before I learned to photograph. His lessons were well learned and now, all these decades later, I still use many of the techniques he taught me.

I am grateful to my dad for his photographic guidance. His critiques of my images helped to shape my photographic vision and technical expertise, both of which have served as a firm foundation for my photographic development.
Unfortunately, under Hungary’s Communist government, as the son of a member of one of its politically undesirable groups, I would have been prevented from moving onto a university level education. Consequently, I entered a vocational school at age 14 from which I graduated as a tool, die, and instrument maker.

During the 1956 Hungarian uprising, I embarked on a very perilous journey in which I departed from my native land. Leaving behind its dark authoritarian, oppressive and threatening regime, I escaped to the United States to begin a new life. There I began studies in Aerospace Engineering. Subsequently, I was working in various engineering, chief engineering and CEO positions prior to establishing my own engineering firm. Nevertheless, my love of photography remained strong and I practiced it at every opportunity.

While running my own company, I had another goal which was to become a photographic art teacher. I enrolled in San Jose State University as a graduate student under Reed Estabrook, Dean of the Faculty at the time, to pursue an MFA degree. Unfortunately, due to deep artistic differences between me and the university I decided to leave, my goal unrealized. Nevertheless, over the years I have had many opportunities to teach others techniques that have served me well. I am grateful to my students and I hope many of them are continuing to follow their own journey in the photographic arts.

Being an avid outdoors person and hiker, my own inclination was to photograph landscapes. A turning point arrived in my photographic development, one that certainly amplified my love of landscape photography. I enrolled in a series of Ansel Adams photography workshops. These classes significantly added to my technical knowledge. Adams’s vision and approach to landscapes was unique. His pursuit of technical expertise and mastery of his materials was paramount to him being able to realize his grand vision of America. Being a technically oriented person myself, I enthusiastically embraced his methods and applied them to my own work process.

Years later, almost parallel with running my engineering firm, I started a commercial photo studio, ìVisions Unlimitedî. My new company was devoted to working with advertising firms that were seeking product and interior photography. Although successful and in demand, the pressure of the advertising field took a toll on my health and seriously encroached on my fine art. In my rare spare time during this period, I pursued my interest in landscape photography until one day my father persuaded me to abandon my commercial studio and concentrate on the activities I loved the most.

Soon after closing my studio, I was introduced to the respected architectural and landscape photographer, Morley Baer, by my close friend and mentor Marvin Wax. Marvin was a well-known graphic art designer and landscape photographer in the San Francisco bay area. After spending time with Morley, I quickly embraced and adopted his simplified, streamlined approach to photography. Morley’s reluctance to use filters, unless absolutely necessary and his desire to work with very basic equipment became hallmarks of my practice as well.

Reflecting on those early dreary years in my native homeland, I realized that those times had left an indelible mark on my printing style. My printing had evolved into a bold and dramatic approach characterized by strong contrast. Morley, a photographer with strength of character if ever there was one, supported my printing methods and encouraged me to continue with them and refine them. He urged me to follow my instincts so that I would identify with the approaches that gave me the most personal satisfaction.

In subsequent years, I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Oliver Gagliani, a photographer who unlocked an additional path that led me to see things differently. Oliver’s style was a departure from grandiose vistas. He found art, satisfaction and intrigue in subjects that represented just a fraction of the larger scene. His mastery of isolated compositions inspired yet another fruitful avenue for me to explore.

In 1991, an unusual opportunity arose. A short time after the end of Communism in Russia and the beginning of ìGlasnostî (transparency), I was privileged to become one of five photographers invited by the Russian government to travel in Central Siberia for six weeks and photograph in locations where no westerners had laid foot for over seventy years. Eastman Kodak and Minolta, among others, sponsored this expedition.

Our sponsors selected me based on my merits as a landscape photographer. In view of what I was facing on my arrival in a part of Siberia that did not have very inspiring landscapes, I drew upon my early exposure to street photography and decided to work on an environmental portraiture series. This Siberian collection became an independent portfolio that was immensely successful as a traveling exhibit. It was shown in many parts of the United States.
After relocating from the West Coast to Denver, Colorado, I became aware that the years were piling up and the weight of my large format cameras was proving to be entirely too much for me as I hiked and continued to concentrate on my art in Colorado’s many inviting landscapes.

Naturally, I put my engineering hat back on and designed two different cameras, one an all-aluminum monorail and the other, a carbon fiber-phenolic modified flat bed, each weighing less than 3 pounds and each within an ounce of the other. My primary choice is a 4X5 film format. Very occasionally, I also use medium format.
Since childhood, I have been enamored with machining and fabrication. Still owning some machinery, I called up on my machining skills and I set out to fabricate these two cameras. Importantly at my age, they are very light, have extensive movements and are designed around my personal needs. I have been using these two cameras for a number of years now with great success. Above all, these cameras have largely enabled me to prolong my photographic activity primarily in Colorado, one of America’s most beautiful and image rich states.

Over the years my printing and composition style gained substantial recognition. I have successfully exhibited in numerous shows and galleries and my work hangs in many private collections in the United States and abroad.

This book offers a small sample of my photographic interests and contains many representations of my lifelong devotion to the fine art of photography. My personal journey has been a long one and I hope the images within these pages will allow you to experience a few of my treasured moments in time as well as gain a little understanding regarding the development of my personal photographic style.