Some photographers look for sunshine and blue skies to make their photographs pop with colour and leave rainy days for the darkroom or doing the admin. But it's on these grey days that Hungarian landscape photographer Ákos Major heads out, leaving behind the warmth of his home in Vienna, Austria. "I often check the weather forecasts," he tells Phaidon. "I look for overcast, greyish weather - evenness. If I find the conditions well in the morning, I throw everything away and go shooting. If the sun shines, I definitely look for another activity. It's hard to schedule."
Major, who left the advertising industry after 10 years to work as a freelance designer and photographer, often takes months to find the right scene. "Landscape photography is about waiting for the right circumstances - the lights, the wind, the clouds," he says. "I often find beautiful scenery but have to leave and come back another time because of the weather conditions. I visit my favourite places often because you never know when you can get the picture you really want. Sometimes it take months."
Depicting a moment of calm, as if time itslelf has stopped, Major's photographs have a crisp intensity despite their grey, overcast nature. "When I feel that I'm in the right place at the right time and find my subject, then I'm happy. Exhalation, absorption. That's the magic moment - when I feel lost in it. Pressing the button and taking photographs comes after. I don't think I've ever made a picture accidentally."
Major works alone, using his photographs as a kind of meditation. "It's a pleasurable thing to be overwhelmed with melancholy. I always loved long, lonely walks, hiking, or just sitting right at the lakeside, watching the water, losing myself in the infinitude of the horizon."
Major says he's influenced by the photography of Michael Kenna, particularly his Tree Portrait, Study 1, Wokato, Hokkaido, Japan (2002). "You can take a photo of a tree. You can take it in a fancy way, as minimalism or whatever stylish manner. I have seen hundreds of 'lonely tree in snow' photographs (and have even done some myself!) but this one has the spirit. It has the 'Shibui' - a simple, subtle beauty - I guess. I love Kenna's photography, but what I do love more is his state of mind. He indulges himself in imperfection. I started my work as a kind of escape from everyday life and it has brought a kind of inner peace to my mind, so I intend to take care of it."
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