Interview with Štefan Csontos
BIFA 2021 Winner, 1st Place, Non-Professional Advertising category, “Hair”
Q: Tell us a bit about your background? How did you discover your love for photography?
I come from the south part of Slovakia and I live in a small village at the bank of the river Danube. I graduated from an agricultural university and I was teaching at a secondary school for a few years. Nowadays I am involved in business through my own wholesale and distribution company focusing on luxury furniture. Photography is a relaxing activity after a demanding day. It is a challenge for a constant improvement and a completely different perspective of the surrounding world.
I started taking pictures precisely on 23 January, 2014. That day I bought my first SLR camera. After my previous compact camera it was a great jump and change. I did not know practically anything about lens aperture, depth, sharpness, time and light. The first settings of my camera were done by one of my acquaintances. I just had a great desire to take photos and develop my skills. I do not go anywhere without my camera.
Q: What was your last work and how did the initial spark of inspiration come about?
My latest works include the series of dramatic portraits made by one light. I am always inspired by shading a face in different lighting.
Q: You were awarded Non-Professional Advertising Photographer of the Year 2021 for your incredibly creative image Hair. How did the idea for this project come about? Can you tell us a bit more about the technicalities of this project?
To be honest, advertising was not the original idea of this photo. I rather wanted to capture beautiful long hair blowing in the air. I decided to realize it with a hairdryer. On purpose I chose a smaller volume in hair instead of big one. I really love contrasts in the means of expression. The photo was taken in my small home studio by two shots.
Q: What genre do you enjoy creating in the most and why?
As an amateur photographer, I have tried many different genres. I started with macro and product photography. I am considered to be a universal photographer creating my photos according to my actual mood. However, my greatest challenge is portrait photography. In my opinion, portrait is a genre that requires thorough knowledge and skills. The aim is always not just to capture the external appearance, but inside, mood and spirits, too, supported by external environment.
Q: What does winning this award mean to you?
When I got the news about my success, I could hardly believe my eyes. As an amateur photographer taking photos mainly for my pleasure I rarely take part in these kinds of competitions. Via receiving this award I did not only get a feedback, but a proof that I do something in a right way. The fact that my creation reached other people moved me emotionally. It is extremely important for me and I really appreciate it.
Q: What would be your dream project in photography if there would be no budget limits and you could travel anywhere, photograph anything/anyone?
My dream project in photography? There are many. I would prefer to take photos of people in countries which I consider exotic or ordinary people from the streets with faces and eyes without makeup revealing their real life stories.
Q: What is the one piece of advice that you received in the past about photography that you follow to this day?
The only advice I follow in photography is that I should not follow any. As a self-educated photographer I have made almost all possible mistakes. They helped me to take lessons on board, and then use what I learned and find my own way. Of course, it does not mean that it is the right one.
Q: Are you working on something new right now? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I am not the type of photographer who works on long-term projects. There are certainly topics that motivate me and I make series – albums of them. They are unlimited in time. I do photography for joy and my themes are often influenced by my actual mood.