Gergo Farkas is a Hungarian born photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. His photography explores the urban environment, its inhabitants and their relationship to it and the natural world. His approach is meticulous with a cheeky peculiarity while embracing spontaneity. The playful interaction of these elements are at the core of his artistic practice and what drives him to keep inspecting daily life and tell stories with his camera. Gergo is also the founder and editor of BROAD. Magazine, a community driven art publication and creative hive. His work has been published in Noice Magazine, Aye Magazine, Lekkerzine, Soundvision, Minimalzine and many others. As well as used by brands like: Apple, Instagram and VSCO.
Hi Gergo, thank you for sitting down with me. First question. How long have you been taking pictures? And what is it about photography that intrigues you?
I’ve been into photography since high school for about 20 years or so, without dating myself too much. I’ve had an interest in photography before we moved to Canada from Hungary but I really got turned on to it once I was in Vancouver. It amazed me that we could take photography courses in high school and learn things you actually had an interest in after coming from such an academically focused education system in Hungary. I’ve had an amazing teacher there, Ms. Liddicoat who encouraged me to consider a career in photography. She truly got me started on this path and was a big influence in helping me understand how you can carve out your own path as a photographer. We had a bunch of old Canon AE-1 SLRs to practice on with those sweet, compact 50mm lenses. We shot mostly B&W and learned to develop our own film and make prints in a darkroom. Digital photography was still very new and very expensive, I guess the latter still stands today. I apprenticed and worked in a couple of studios after that and kept practicing.
For me photography is a way to process my surroundings and forces me to slow down and look at the details of life and the subjects I’m trying to capture. Especially when I shoot street photography which is closest to my heart. I have a tendency to flop around between projects and tasks and often try to do too many things at once. Photography helps me experience a “Flow” state to observe and process my environment better and in a more conscious manner, hyper focused on light, shadows, and moods.
Tell me about the story behind Broad Magazine. How did it get started and why?
I started Broad as an exercise in creativity and a way to collect ideas from around the world. I was definitely amongst the earlier users of Instagram when it was all about sharing photos, but found it very sort of empty and shallow just posting random photos for purely aesthetic pleasure. My goal was to start collecting work from talented artists I admired into cohesive collections that help explore the human condition and how we experience the world across different cultures. This is something that really fascinates me. I thought Instagram was very well suited for this due to it’s international appeal and how wildly popular it got in the previous decade. Now with Instagram focusing a lot more on video in an effort to compete with TikTok. I’m not sure what the next step will be or what other platform will emerge that could serve as a home for photographers. There are some very active and wonderfully supportive communities on the platform and I think IG could be supporting them better.
You run Broad with a couple of other people, how did you guys come together?
I’m really fortunate to have such a passionate group of people supporting the project. My wife, Vera started helping with the magazine once it became too big to handle by myself. I started out doing it for fun, but it quickly started to resemble a full-time job as it grew. She also has an interest in photography and we often go out shooting together. We share an interest in visual arts and it’s really amazing to have her support.
I’ve gotten to know Marlène through the different communities we were involved in on Instagram and we slowly developed a friendship as we share a common vision of the world and have similar tastes in photography. Her work also inspired me to explore a more stripped down, minimalist style for my own practice. We work closely together even though we haven’t met in person yet as she lives in Germany and we are in Canada.
Alexa is our other co-editor, who is also a gifted photographer, writer and now Insta-famous food blogger. We got to know each other through the local Hungarian community in Vancouver. She plays an important role in conceptualizing each issue and making sure all writing is tight and on point. There are many other people who take part in making each issue a reality and we are so grateful for everyone’s contribution in our community.
Besides having an online presence with the Broad website, you also publish the physical Magazine. What was that transition like, going from online to print? And what has been the biggest obstacle so far with that process?
The desire to make a printed magazine was there from the beginning. I have a weakness for photo books and well put together zines. I really enjoy the process of bringing together different material from contributors from all over the world to form a cohesive whole expressing new ideas on universal topics. That’s really the basis for the magazine. I would say the biggest obstacle initially was finding the right place to print. There are so many options out there, and the cost and quality have to line up to make viable product. I wasn’t particularly experienced in this area so there was a bit of a learning curve initially.
Now, besides publishing and highlighting other peoples works, You are a renowned photographer yourself. What camera and lens do you use?
I mainly shoot with Canon cameras although I own a few other brands as well. My first SLR was a Canon as that’s what I learned on, so it stuck with me. My daily shooter is an EOS R at the moment and I pair it with a 40mm pancake lens when walking around town. It’s probably Canon’s cheapest lens, and I cherish the fact that you can shoot some super clean images with it while remaining largely unnoticed. It’s so small and inconspicuous that nobody bats an eye when I use it on the street, if I have my 24-70 on my camera or some other more substantial glass, I get stopped a lot more often by people wondering why I’m photographing their house. With today’s advanced technology your equipment really doesn’t matter unless you’re trying to do something super technical. I think it’s much more important to focus on why you’re taking a photo and what you’re trying to convey.
Other than the camera and lens. Are there any essential items that you always bring with you when shooting?
I think one of the most underrated (and accessible) camera accessory is a really good camera strap. Especially if you’re working long days or walking around town and want to have your camera ready and stay comfortable. I swear by my Peak Design camera strap, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever put on my camera. And I swear I don’t work for them or get endorsed by them to say this. If you have one you know.
I’m not as big of a gear head as I used to be, even though I am very interested in the technology and how it’s constantly pushes the boundaries of what’s possible to capture with modern cameras. I try to keep my setup simple purposefully so I can focus on taking photographs and not debate which lens to use, etc.
Your works have been published by several well known publications and used by huge brands, such as Apple and Instagram. Do you feel more pressure in taking the “perfect” picture, the more notoriety you get?
Sometimes I do feel the pressure to constantly put out new work even if I am not in the most productive phase or I’m really occupied with a big project like a new Broad issue or have a couple of bigger shoots to finish for clients. It comes and goes in waves. I really just try to convey my perception of reality and how I see day to day life. Mundanity with a bit of quirkiness fascinates me.
Who are your favourite photographer(s)?
The ones whose work really inspires me and I admire are: Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, Fred Herzog, Andreas Gursky, Greg Girard, Edward Burtinsky and Wolfgang Tillmans in no particular order.
Which picture(s) do you think is the best that has ever been taken? And why?
That’s a loaded question and I’m not sure it can be answered. There are so many different ways to depict even the simplest things. Will we ever have The “Best” picture? What makes it the best? I enjoy imperfection and mistakes as life is never perfect. Having said that, if I had to pick one photo book to take to a deserted island with me it would be Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places. I absolutely admire the observational, almost meditative style of photography he pioneered.