Born on May 25, 1940

1954-58 Attended József Attila Secondary Grammar School 1962-70 Hungarian News Ageny (MTI) and advertising photographer

1970 Freelance photographer

1978 Photo editor at Gabi-Mami

1980 Photo editor at Hungarian Digest

1991 Photo editor at Privát Profit

1992 Creative director at Nõk Lapja (magazine)

1999 Hungarian National Association of Creative Artists (MAOE),

President of Board of Directors

2001 Association of Hungarian Photographers, Head of Art Committee

2002 Association of Hungarian Photographers, Member of the Board

2005 Hungarian National Association of Creative Artists, Photo Department, President


1978 Balázs Béla Award

1980 "For Hungarian Advertising" Award

1983 Pécsi József Award

1988 The Meritious Artist of the Hungarian People's Republic

2001 Life Achievement Award from the Association of Hungarian Photographers

2004 Hungarian National Association of Creative Artists, Grand Prize

2008 The Excellent Artist of the Hungarian Republic


1966 MTI photo at the Vadas Ernõ Room, Budapest /with István Bara /

1983 University of Medical School and Health Center, Debrecen

1986 Vigadó Gallery, Budapest

1988 Photo Gallery (Fotómûvészeti Galéria), Budapest

2001 Hungarian House of Photography, Budapest Vintage Gallery, Budapest

2005 Vintage Gallery, Budapest

2006 Dunakeszi, Farkas Ferenc Art School

2007 Pécs, Mecsek Photo Club

2007 Nagykanizsa, Poster House

2009 National Office of Cultural Heritage, Budapest

2010 Hungarian House of Photography,Budapest


On September 1, 1939, fanaticized Germans blitzed through innocent Poland from the sake of adventure, while Comrade Molotov silently turned a blind eye. My Adored Parents, tavern-owner József Tóth and housewife Mariska Banai found this moment to make a fair little boy. The act bore a fruit: with some loud moaning and yammering I arrived on May 25, 1940 - “Hello, here I am.” During the years of war, I was shooting up nicely; as a three-year old, I was singing the era's greatest hit: “A little curious duck one night has not arrived home.” And this is what almost happened to my dear father also in the winter of 1944. Had there been not that one good-intentioned Hungarian remembering my father's remarkable beef stew, my poor father would have probably ended up in warm Siberia on a nice package tour. One day, the brawl as in the war ended. In 1950 Comrade Rákosi, beloved leader of our people, laid an eye on my Father's inn “Green Arbor,” and, out of mere philanthropic love, he eased him from the care and trouble of managing business. Furthermore, the comrade sought a meeting with me and visited my elementary school on Sopron Street where, due to my rich baritone, I temporarily rose to president of the pioneer team. Temporarily only, as the real and official pioneer peer had gone speechless when he found out that he had to tie the pioneers' silk tie on Rákosi's neck. I did it. I had not yet been the proper height when I found myself at József Attila Secondary School in the mixed company of communist and peacetime teachers. These were happy, unforgettable years with the euphoric October of 1956. At the age of 18, of course, I could not foresee any kind of future for myself as, due to my "other" background (not being one from the working class), I had not been dangled with promises. I didn't fit in the warrior group of the working class. Parallel to some unsuccessful attempts to get in to the university, I employed the unskilled laborer of myself at various factories. I was actively participating in building socialism. In the Gamma factory, for the celebrations of the Great October Revolution on November 7th, we managed to daub such a huge Lenin head with my assistance that in a decoration competition we outran the neighboring Standard factory, the cradle of foreign reaction. Then after I received the following earnest reassurance from Comrade Weil, the all-powerful human resources executive of the company: "Comrade Tóth! We are very pleased with you. If you continue like this, you may become a semi-skilled worker. What a perspective for a child from the exploiting class." In the meantime, I was caught by photography; with some strings pulled, I soon ended up working at MTI (Hungarian News Agency) Photo as a photographer's apprentice. Upon successfully acquiring the skilled laborer license, I found myself at the crib of advertising photography in the company of wonderful colleagues with long history in picture-taking leaning towards a conservative view on photography and a preference to didactic solutions. I only had one shot to prove myself as I basically had known nothing about the profession. I could survive on running with my associative skills and humor I carried on from my past experience in caricatures. As it turned out later, these competencies were in my favor and advanced me a lot. Propagandists from Hungarian export companies picked up on the novel voice and lavished me with better and better assignments. In the meantime, I somewhat learned how to take pictures, but not really. My ars poetica was born quickly: "While taking pictures, I am mostly bothered by the camera itself."
This is even more acutely valid and true today. By 2000, hundreds of commercial posters, brochures and calendars are the evidence to my sins awaiting their resurrection in national collections. In 2000, I was hit by Cupid's book publishing arrow.
This love bore the following works: Portrait Gallery of Hungarian Photographers, Master Füles's picture book, Master Füles's smile album, Book of Medieval Hungarian Churches, Synagogues in Hungary, Master Füles's waxworks, The smile of the violin, Petõfi with a camera, Bridges of our past, 100 poems 100 photographs.

This love endures. Thank you, I am doing well.

April 9, 2010

József Tóth

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