Surreal dreamscapes with Hungarian photographer Marietta Varga

Marietta Varga (@mattivarga) is a Hungarian photographer currently based between Budapest and Siófok. Her visual world is described as simple and clean, balanced with precisely directed compositions. She creates a sensitivity in the use of colours and spatial awareness helps to evoke a unique atmosphere of her visual world. Her pictures often have strong symbolism where the viewers can find themselves placed in a surreal dreamscape.

Tell us about the themes you pursue

In the past, I’ve made photo series’ about my personal stories, traumas and memories. When I did these projects it was a kind of a therapy for me. I was thinking a lot, not just about the photos or the symbol of the photos, the compositions, but also about myself. I was trying to figure out how I became the person I am today. It helped me a lot.

Recently, I have taken a step back from myself. I still get loads of inspiration from my memories but the subjects of my works are more objective.

I really enjoy discovering the socialist-modernism architecture and culture in Hungary, the brutalism architecture, so I have started to focus on architectural photography. At the same time I mix this with my thoughts and my visual style to create a new world, which represents a world where I would willingly live.

How do you scout locations to suit your style of photography? 

First of all, the colours and the atmosphere of the place is really important. The perfect location is simple, pure and has some regularity in an architecture way. When I seek interiors, I prefer abandoned or empty places which have a mystic feeling. Nowadays I am in love with the socialist-modernism places as I have just mentioned before.

The location is one of the most important things in my photography, so I spend a lot of time finding the best. Most of the time I search on Google or when I travel and notice something that would be great for later, I make some notes.

What techniques do you use to get those colours?

The first thing that carefully choose is the location. I always pay attention the colours present. Then I am really picky about lighting. I usually take my photos in one kind of light that really helps me to reach the most appropriate tones and colours. And finally I use Photoshop to improve the details.

Tell us about your My Town Siofok II. project

This project is really special to me. When I took the photos, I would never have thought that this photo series was going to be so popular. Usually, when I do a photography series, I have a concept, I’ll research and plan literally everything beforehand. But with My Town Siófok II. it was completely different.

I was living in the UK at the time and had a one week trip home after Christmas in winter. I woke up earlier than usual one morning, looked out the kitchen window and was like ‘Oh my god, what just happened last night?! It is amazing’. I couldn’t believe my eyes it was so wonderful. Everything was frozen and totally white, but not snowy. I think that’s what was so particular and I immediately decided to go out and take a big walk around the block where we live in Siófok. I found myself in a really nostalgic mood as I was finally home and I realised how much I missed my town. So I went for a walk, took my camera with me and was taking photos.

After that, I didn’t look at the photos until I got back to London. When I was far away from my home again, I started to look at the pictures and the memories flooded back. I wasn’t sure that the photos were good enough to post anywhere, so I had to ask my best friend for her opinion. She encouraged me that the project is definitely good enough, so I published the series on my Behance profile and then I got so much good feedback. I am really thankful for this.

What other photographers and filmmakers have been inspirational to your work?

I would say one of the biggest inspirations has been Lucien Hervé. He was a Hungarian-born, brilliant photographer, and he was especially famous for his architecture photography. He had a long-term collaboration with Le Corbuiser. I admire how he captured the buildings and put himself in every each photos.

What makes a memorable photograph?

I think if somebody can be 100% honest through his/her photography and create something unique and find his/her own photography language, the result is probably going to be a memorable photograph. I also think is really important that the viewers can connect somehow with the photos.

What do you want viewers to take away from your work?

My goal is that the viewers will discover something in my photos that effects their emotions in some way. If it brings up a memory or if they just start to associate with another thing, and think about them, then I am already happy. I really don’t mind if it isn’t exactly the same what as what I wanted to tell, because everybody is different. Everybody has their own story and background, everyone was socialised in a different way. But if the viewers can connect to my photograph in any way and they will remember it, that is more than enough.

What has been the most incredible thing you’ve captured on camera?

A favourite photo of mine is from the My Town Siófok II. series. In my opinion, sometimes the most simple things can be the most beautiful. This photo wasn’t taken in an extremely special place. I mean generally it is not special but of course, for me it is. In this photo, there is a white frozen tree between two huge building walls. I think it presents the urban life and nature at the same time. It is dreamy and bit surreal, and is really close to my heart.

How has social media played a role in your work? 

I think social media has power over what people can like or dislike, use or not use, but they have to accept this. I hadn’t realised that until I started to use it properly. Since then, I have been receiving so much kind and positive feedback. Most of my enquiries for projects come through social media.

What advice would you give yourself if you started all over again?

I would say don’t be afraid of doing the things that you have never tried before. Be more brave and open. I still fight with this, I should break down some of the walls I built myself. So actually my advice is also true for the present.

View more of Marietta’s work at or @mattivarga.

Up next, Photography with Marilyn Mugot.

Submit your work. 

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail