art:. Tony Verebes, Caffe Luxxe, Santa Monica

You might find him, building his own house in Malibu, venturing into a coffee shop in Santa Monica, or traversing around the world with his wife.

It is for sure, that if, and when, you do find him, he’ll have a camera in hand, but take note, he’s a lens’ less photographer – as the ability to see right through glass and into his subjects soul is his real device.

This is Tony Verebes for Caffe Luxxe.

smdlr: Tony! I saw just one of your images, printed on a card advertising your show, it was so powerful that I knew I had to speak with you.  And, now here we are. Please, can you share how your trip to Nepal came to be?

Tony Verebes: I’ve always loved to travel. I’m of Swiss heritage and Swiss people love to travel. I  have a friend who is also a mentor, he went to Nepal and told me how magical it was. And, then there was a Harrison Ford – Raiders of the Lost Ark – they went to Nepal, I saw that and thought, I just want to go there. So, a few years ago, in 2009, my wife and I decided we would do a trip around the world and one place we went to was Nepal.

s: Awesome!

tv: I went to a temple called Pashupatinath on the Bagmati River in Katmandu where they cremate the dead. Its also a place where tourist go. Its really intense because of the smells, heat and the visuals. It’s a place where Sahdu’s – Hindu Monks hang out.

s: And, this is what the exhibit documents?

tv: Yes, the whole photo exhibit is about the Sadhu’s. When I was there, I’d walk up to them, real slowly, and say Namaste, which is how you say hello. A lot of times they would smile at me and I got this feeling that it would be okay to photograph them and that they would accept me. They always said yes, and I’d give money to them out of politeness.

s: Cautious, and generous – I think, that’s a good way to photograph people. There’s such intimacy in the photos, did that come easy for you to capture?

tv: Well, I would start taking pictures, and there was a moment when they would look at me and at the camera, and they went right through the camera and into my brain, it was like an instant explosion and that was the best photograph. All of the photographs are like that.  I also have the ability to make people feel comfortable around me. I go up to strangers and all of sudden they’ll tell me their life stories and they haven’t told anyone it for years.

s: Does that mean, then, that you travel and approach your subject looking for a certain emotion or is it all a result of the moment?

tv: It’s totally in the moment. It’s impossible to have something in mind. And with the Sadhu’s it was just the moment. They gave me this intensity which was amazing! The good part, is that I go into it with a real positive feeling and with a smile.

s: On the poster card for your show, it mentions that you use photography to reveal human psychology. Was there anything about the human psyche revealed to you, in Nepal, while doing this project?

tv: Interesting. My aunt, Trudi Schoop, was a famous Swiss pantomimist. She came to the United States when I was a kid. She started the American Dance Therapy Association and I was always around her. She went into mental institutions and read the body languages of these psychotic people and made a connection with them through dance and movement. I learned a lot about reading peoples body language from her.

I wasn’t really conscious of this when I was with the monks. But, they have a strange body language, extreme intensity, yet a gentle soft movement flowing about them. First, I was afraid, and then I realized I didn’t have to be. I respected them and they accepted me. Then, taking their photographs showed me their soul right through their eyes, in that moment. And, in a way, that’s all that we have, are the moments.

For more of Mr. Verebes’ work visit here. Additionally, 30% of the sales go to an organization - Maiti Nepal. They fight sex trafficking from Nepal and rescue young girls (sometimes as young as five years old)  from brothels in India. Maiti Nepal gives them medical and psychological attention and education. 30 percent of the sales will go to this cause. Mr. Verebes’ art work currently on display at Caffe Luxxe.

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