Most landscape photographers tend to seek out nature’s drama–the flashes of lightning, rushing currents, or vibrant foliage. Hungarian photographer Ákos Major, on the other hand, seeks stillness, and finds an incredible depth there.
As a photographer, Major is slow and deliberate. He’ll often return to a location multiple times, if the conditions aren’t quite right–meaning, if they aren’t grim enough. Each photograph has a silence to it, as though the thick grey cloud cover has dampened any noise or color. He seems fascinated by water: though his website is a patchwork of shots from around Europe, almost every image focuses on a body of water, its texture and tone–a flooded walkway in Paris is treated much like the rough Adriatic from the Slovenian coast. Sometimes he shoots ice.
Major was born in Budapest and studied graphic design at Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design. He worked in advertising for a decade, striking off on his own in 2010 to pursue photography full time from his home in Austria. His work has gained major traction online in just a few months, receiving attention from Phaidon and popping up on the Tumblr radar. Talking about his influences, Major cites Michael Kenna, the British landscape photographer known for his moody long-exposure shots of gnarled trunks and frozen lakes. “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,” he tells Phaidon. “It’s a pleasurable thing to be overwhelmed with melancholy.”
Though he’s based in Vienna, Major returns to Hungary often, and finds himself drawn to one of his old haunts–Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe and a popular tourist destination in summer. “I often shoot in crowded cities or in the mountains as well,” he explains over email. “Still, I’ll revisit this place from time to time, and it will always remains the same for me.” He’s turned his repeat visits into a ongoing series called Waterscapes, which shows Balaton in the depths of cold, bleak winter. “I love the lake best in the autumn and in wintertime, when no tourists around,” he adds. “It always overwhelms me with its mood–the lights, the scent of the water, the silence around.”