In Conversation with Richard Kovacs

Interviewed by Timothy Frazier
Photos by Richard Kovacs

TF: How did you get into photography?

RK: I was 11 when my family gave me a small camera as a Christmas present, so it was quite spontaneous. I started to read books and blogs about photography and gradually became more and more interested in it. I was still going to school so I had time to play around, try different things and experiment for many years without much pressure.

TF: Your images feel very dream-like and eerie, could you talk about your influences and motivations?

RK: I think my photography has changed significantly in the past few years, for many reasons. Photography is all about how you think, how you see the world, where you go, what are your current interests and influences. I’ve just graduated from University of the Arts London so my studies took a big part in shaping my visual language and way of thinking. Also, being in London influences you so much, especially if you grew up in a tiny town on the countryside of a small country, like me.

Nowadays I’m really interested in film directors like David Lynch or Bela Tarr, to name a few - their work is quite dreamy, dark, and evocative, which I find exciting. I’m also really into artists like Gyorgy Kepes and Laszlo Moholy Nagy, both Hungarian - their work is heavily based on abstraction and experimentation. I think there are definitely some common values in the work of 20th Century Hungarian visual artists, for example a sense of melancholia or the dark aesthetics, and I think these values still influence young Hungarian artists.

TF: Tell me about your project, “I Will See You in my Dreams”.

RK: his was my final major project at university. I became aware of the work of some of the local designers based in Lagos, Nigeria last year and the topic started to interest me, and after doing a lot of research I realised there is a big contemporary fashion industry in Lagos. There are lots of young designers, fashion weeks, art fairs, galleries, concept stores, exhibitions - Lagos is the centre of contemporary fashion and art in West Africa right now. It’s also worth noting that the modern part of Lagos is very expensive and there are numerous wealthy people there – and I think most people in Europe are not aware of all of this, they have a negative image of Nigeria in their mind due to the media.

So I wanted to challenge people’s perception of the place and show what contemporary African fashion can be. I contacted creatives, designers, stylists before my visit and they seemed open minded about the collaboration, so I went there for a month by myself and worked together with many people from the industry, young designers, stylists, models, make up artists. I was lucky to be there during Arise Fashion Week (Naomi Campbell, amongst other big names, was brought there by the Arise team to promote African fashion for the whole week), so I could experience the Lagos madness as well. It was very exciting and people were very open minded, and Nigerians know how to have fun!

We did many shoots during that time but in the final series I only chose the night time photographs. The process was very experimental - playing with different techniques, lights and post production possibilities. The final series feels quite dream-like, that’s where the title and subtitle come from (it’s also a reference to one of my inspirations). It feels like we are in a weird, night-time dream, it’s hot and dark, we are wandering between various locations, like in dreams, and everything is a bit blurry.

Cyprien Gaillard’s Nightlife work was also a great source of inspiration during the editing process.

TF: What's your favorite thing about London? How do you think living in the city has influenced your photography?

RK: I really like London, it’s one of the most diverse places on the planet. You can find people from literally everywhere in the world, and that’s what makes London great. By living here you become much more open minded and more aware of your own background. You learn a lot about yourself and you realise where you come from and how your background sits in the wider context of the world.

TF: Favorite commission or assignment to date? 

RK: Usually personal projects are more enjoyable, but so far my favourite commission was a short film that I directed this September for a Hungarian heritage brand that makes leather gloves since 1861 - we are currently editing the film. Nowadays I’m more and more interested in moving image so it is something that I want to further explore.

TF: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

RK: To give politicians conscience and make people a bit smarter so they don’t vote for such politicians - that could perhaps save the world.

TF: If you could photograph anyone from any time era, who would it be and why?

RK: I’m not sure, I don’t really have heroes or ultimate icons so it would be hard to pick one person


TF: Future plans or upcoming projects?

RK: In the past few months I’ve been to Albania, South Korea, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, I’m currently editing these projects on top of a few commissions, once I finish these I will have time to execute some of my editorial ideas - and just continue experimenting and learning I guess!

Richard Kovacs (b. in Hungary) is a London based photographer. You may view more of his work on his website,