Every country has it’s own beauty, The Hub of Australia and Beyond by Thomas Palfy, his new photo essay introduces us to some of the beauty that is Australia. He documents two separate journeys into the heart of the country, a place that few of us have ever seen. He is accompanied by his wife (and camera, of course), and takes the reader on a colorful and striking tour of the land down under. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Thomas.
I read that you were born in Hungary. How is it that you came to live in Australia, of all places?
Hello, Sebastian, thank you for inviting me to this interview. I was a university student in 1956 when the Hungarian people revolted against the oppression. The uprising was crushed by the Soviet army and some 200,000 people escaped to the West, among them many young people, I was one of them … I had a choice to stay in Western Europe or emigrate to an overseas destination. The fact, that I ended up in Australia of all places, as you say and as I myself would say â€“ was influenced, heavily influenced by the fact that I had relatives living in Melbourne.
When did your love of photography begin? Have you had any other interesting occupations over the years?
I have been a keen amateur photographer since the age of about 13 or so. Interestingly enough I have never considered photography as a career because I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer. I worked in the plastics and allied industries for 45 years.
The photographs in your book come from all over the continent. How long did it take you to bring this project to fruition?
This particular project was completed in record time. The first trip (to the Northern Territory) lasted about two weeks. This was followed back in Melbourne by frantic activity to write the first half of the book. After a few months my wife and I were on the move again, this time the destination was South Australia. After our return I completed the book â€“ the actual writing and designing the cover etc. takes 7 to 10 days solid work.
Where did the idea for The Hub of Australia come from?
Back in the 20th century our sabbatical leaves were spent by visiting many places in Australia. These holiday trips were invariably followed by writing letters and travel journals. Eventually the book Australian Adventures was written, based on travel diaries in all States and Territories of Australia. I got a few copies printed and distributed to friends and relatives here in Australia and overseas. This was followed by Images of Australia, a collection of about 100 pictures. Full stop. Some years after someone mentioned the Internet publisher Lulu, so I rushed to publish these two works. By that time I was retired (not working full time), so there was no way to stop me from carrying on, taking more photographs, writing more books. After my retirement in 2002, we became a little more systematic with the Australian discovery tours. Last year it was Western Australia (see the book The West of the West â€“ published by Lulu in English and Hungarian), this year the middle slice of the continent followed (The Hub of Australia and Beyond, published by BookSurge).
At times this book reads like a postcard from a good friend. Was that your intention?
This was unintentional, yet you are not the only reviewer who noticed it. The intention is to present images, to make people interested in travel in Australia. The emphasis is more on the visual than on the written word.
What was your most interesting means of transportation throughout your travels?
The helicopter ride over Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand comes to my mind as one of the the most fascinating moments in my life. Otherwise I consider walking as the best way to experience life.
Do you have any other books in print?
Yes, Australian Adventures, Images of Australia, Challenge and Adversity, The West of the West and the collection of my favorite photos, Captured with the Camera.
Are you currently working on any other projects? I read that you are teaching a class on digital photography. Can you talk about that?
Having published the books about The West and the Hub of the continent, I immediately started a similar book about the Eastern states. U3A (University of the 3rd Age) is an organization devoted to teaching all sorts of skills to the elderly. The digital camera courses are very popular because many people, of all ages find the operation of digital cameras baffling. I tend to go beyond the actual technicalities in the class room, I try to emphasise that people should first and foremost try to take good pictures.
In this age of technology, gear makes a lot of difference. What equipment do you prefer?
I use Panasonic digital cameras. The long zoom helps in difficult situations, particularly in photographing animals. It also works very well for close-ups as in flower pictures.
You obviously are a multi-faceted person. What other interests or hobbies do you have?
I am still involved in technical projects to some degree, I make PhotoStory 3 presentations (this is a kind of slide show with sound), read through many books, learn languages and when I am not travelling I spend time to prepare for the next trip. I listen to classical music and to some light music and look for ways of entertaining my grandchildren.
Thomas, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me, and once again congratulations on creating a wonderful book. I hope that I see it on the NYT bestseller list in the very near future.
Thank you, Sebastian!
You can get your own copy of this wonderful book from Amazon.