With fridge magnets that evoke the atmosphere of old Budapest, you can step back in time. Viktor Ladinek, the creator of the pictures, is also motivated by the excitement of the past and the uniqueness of handmade products. He finds old pictures much more exciting, as they have something real to say and can show something new in our modern world. And why did he choose that? "Do what you love." - he says.
Who are you, and what led you to eventually take up photography?
I'm an employed photographer and, as a friend of mine used to say, a gift and souvenir maker. I've been taking photos since I was in high school, and I've been in the lab for almost twenty years. Then about ten years ago, I started dealing in cheap antiques, and that's when I started re-enlarging old negatives and processing legacies.
Why did you choose old photos? Why are you attracted to photos from the past? What do you have to say about them?
I'm more attracted to the technique. I work with old photos for the simple reason that the current state is hard to sell, whatever the technique. Today's age on a photograph will be interesting in fifty years time, which is why I document it on film in the present time, based on what I learn from old photographs. Something to say? Do what you love, and I say that only to myself, in parentheses. Anyone who buys my magnet or any other handmade product knows exactly what the value is in Michelangelo's chair leg.
How did the photos become fridge magnets?
At first, I sold simple postcard-sized photos, but they didn't buy them. When a friend suggested the fridge magnet, I felt insulted and ridiculous to "waste" analogue lab technology on such a mass-produced product, but the design and production challenges pushed me to the stage of creation and the reactions were positive.
In the magnets, Budapest is your main theme. Why did you choose this city?
It was not a choice, I feel home in Budapest. The theme is adapted to the market and everywhere the local theme is interesting. By the way, I also have the Balaton series, I make custom series on commission, the Szentendre HÉV series is being made now, and I have enough designs in my head for years.
If I know properly, your works are mainly from the Fortepan collection. What is your relationship with them? And what images do you process?
Let's say it's half and half between my own and Fortepan's sources, but that's not the important thing. The ratio is so exact that my manufactory would not have survived without Fortepan. I would not be able to work with the paintings of György Klösz (1844-1913), for example, because of the limitations and cost of ownership or museum access. (He is a pioneer and one of the most important figures in Hungarian urban photography.) I respect and admire Miklós Tamási (founder of the Fortepan collection) for creating the archive without any punching. Our relationship is easy, I am an avid user of their collection and I am happy to enrich their collection with my own.
What system do you use to select the images? Do you have a concept?
Since they are souvenirs, there are the obligatory themes. Parliament, Chain Bridge, etc. Beyond that, I always experiment with subjects that are popular and subjects that I like, but they very rarely survive more than fifty series. The series on Lake Balaton is a different story, where the themes of sailing and bathing are universally loved.
You also use cyanotype when developing photos. What is your photo processing technique? How do you turn a negative into a fridge magnet?
Cyanotype and traditional lab techniques are two different things. The former is a very simple and relatively inexpensive process, while the latter requires a lab and expertise. I do cyanotype, but it's really fun, and I'd recommend it to anyone. My technique is hand lab on silver gelatin photographic paper, which used to be the common technique, used by everyone from bathroom dim to cheese labs. Red light, smears and tweezers. If anyone is interested in more information, you can find it on my website.
Do you want to keep the style of the time and reproduce it in the same way? Or do you want to present the old through the lens of the present?
The style, by which I mean the look of a photograph, has changed from time to time. Sometimes they were glued to hard cardboard, sometimes they had a raster surface, typically the size changed, just to name a few things. I display a hundred and twenty year old picture and a fifty year old picture in the same way. Browned, with a zigzag edge. Eyeglasses of the age mostly, maybe the magnet feature, and hand labs are the romance of the PS and NFT era. Or punk.
Do you have favourite pictures, or favourite eras that you like the most?
I like staged photos and humour, and it's not era specific. I have light-hearted, hilarious scenes from the hell of Don, and deeply depressing ones from everyday life in the bourgeoisie. I love moments, not history