Meet György László, expert photography teacher from ExposureWorks. Having trained in filmmaking at Famu in Prague, György has learnt from the some of the best teachers all over the world. He loves talking about his craft almost as much as he loves igniting the passion for photography in others. Over the past three years he has taught over 500 courses and close to 2500 people. We spoke to György to find out more about his life’s passion.
How did you discover your passion for photography and what did you do to develop and improve your skills?
I didn’t discover photography, photography came to me. I’m an observer by nature. I got my first camera when I was ten from my father who himself wanted to be a cinematographer when he was younger. I don’t know how or why, but he sensed that I might like it. And I did. Photography is simple. It’s exactly like writing. With a minimum of tools one gets to tell a story of enormous depth. The photography I enjoy the most is documentary in nature, often called street photography (check out György’s Instagram here to discover his street photography). What I try to take pictures of are fleeting instances, there one second, gone the next. The only way to get better at it is to keep doing it and keep reflecting on it. Skills are easy to develop, photography is – technically speaking – a straightforward craft that anyone can learn.
What are the unexpected benefits of taking a class in photography?
Photography is truly simple and once I show this to people I can see their relief. It’s an enormously liberating feeling for them. I don’t think that everyone needs to be an artist – far from it! However, there is something wonderfully satisfying about being able to take shots on your own that you are proud of. Everyone is passionate about something: loved ones, children, nephews, nieces, flowers, the ocean or the stars… Being able to capture the time you spend with them is a very gratifying experience.
What have you learned from teaching other people about photography?
I love to see the spark in people’s eyes when they finally understand the basics and start taking pictures that they thought were reserved for ‘professionals’. It is during these moments that I feel useful.
How does photography change the way you view the world?
Photography doesn’t change the way I view the world. It creates my world. Being a cinematographer and a photographer turned me into a person who sees light, composition, scenes, close-ups and wide shots where ever I go and whatever I do. It’s obsessive. I’m ‘on’ all the time. The difficulty for me lies in turning this internal, mental camera off.
What are your favourite places in London to do a shoot, and why?
I love London for its ethnic diversity. I live in South East London and I very much enjoy doing photography in its less ‘mainstream’ areas like Peckham, Camberwell, Deptford or Brixton. But what’s really important to me is that you simply cannot be bored in London. My favourite location is, however, always the place that I haven’t been to yet! And that’s yet another facet of photography that I love: it allows me to go to unknown places all the time.
What was the first photography gear you invested in?
I firmly believe that the gear itself is irrelevant. The camera, the lens, the film or the digital sensor – they are simply tools. In our over-technicized and gadgetized world we tend to forget that the tool is only as powerful as the person who wields it. There are strong images created by the worst camera phones.
How do you feel about using editing tools to change / enhance photos?
I come from a film and therefore a darkroom background. Although I am sometimes nostalgic for the alchemy of all those noxious chemicals and the stench of the fixer, I love the immediacy of digital editing.
I especially love Adobe Lightroom and I use it every day. In its fundamental approach – and the name is not a coincidence – it is a digital darkroom to develop your images in. I prefer to talk about this process more as ‘digital printing’. Just like it used to be with film negatives, there are important technical and creative decisions to be taken before an image is truly ready.
If you’d like to know more about György’s photography classes with Obby, click here.