Born in 1952, in Budapest. During the first years of his life, his family lived with a relative in Pestlőrinc, a suburban area of Budapest. Back then, streets saw more horse-drawn carts than automobiles. When he was 9, his family moved to their own apartment in District 6.

Sándor’s father, György Kereki-Kopányi, worked as dramaturge at the Hungarian Radio. He also wrote poems, novels, and plays, but his radio theater pieces proved the most successful. Zsuzsanna Czigány, Kereki’s mother, was a homemaker, keeping the family together. Sándor had one sister, who, shortly after graduating in Hungarian and English, got married and moved to Finland.

Sándor began elementary school while still in Pestlőrinc, but finished in District 6, at the Szinyei, the same school where he later completed his secondary-school studies.

The Kereki children spent every summer with their grandparents in Győr; with hiking, canoeing, and fishing.


Sándor Kereki with his grandfather, Jenő Czigány, in 1957


Sándor Kereki with his sister, Eszter Kereki, in 1957


He received his first camera for his 16th birthday from his father, who as teenager also used to take pictures himself, and was familiar with composition, having graduated from college as a graphic designer.

Before long, Sándor joined the school’s camera club. Gradually he used his camera more frequently, submitted pictures to competitions, and won prizes. Being able to complete his schoolwork quickly allowed him to roam the streets and squares of Budapest day after day, and take photos. Already the same evening, he developed and enlarged his favorite pictures in the darkened family kitchen.


Sándor Kereki as secondary-school student in 1970


In 1969, his pictures were published as cover photos first by the magazine Magyar Horgász (Hungarian fisherman) in April, followed by the magazine Pajtás (Pal) in August. In 1970–1971, several articles in the magazine Magyarország (Hungary) were illustrated with his works. In 1971, he won a prize at the Országos Középiskolai Fotókiállítás (National secondary-school photo exhibition), and in June his photos were put on display at the Budapesti Fotoklub (Budapest photo club).

At the time, photography was not considered a steady job, so he planned to become a cinematographer He applied to the Academy of Drama and Film in Budapest three times, but failed to get in. He was, however, admitted to the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Budapest University of Technology, where he spent a lot of his time in the university’s camera club. He continued to participate in competitions and to send photos to local newspapers during his university years as well.




Sándor Kereki’s photos in issue 37, 1970 of the magazine Magyarország (Hungary)


Letter sent to Sándor Kereki in 1971


April 1969 issue of the Magyar Horgász (Hungarian fisherman), featuring Sándor Kereki’s photo on its cover

August 1969 issue of the Pajtás (Pal), featuring Sándor Kereki’s photo on its cover


He quit the university after a year and a half. Completing his military service, he began working at the Hungarian Television first as an assistant director, “presenters’ cameraman,” assistant cameraman, and eventually a cameraman. The latter became the most typical, at the time. He got to familiarize himself with several genres, and worked on sports programs, theater broadcasting, and TV plays.


Distinguished soldier of the People’s Army certificate


In 1973, he participated in the national photography show in Nagykanizsa entitled Éltünk (Lives we lived), where one of his works (Féltés [Care]) received a prize. In November the same year, his works were on display among other Hungarian artists at the 5th FIAL FOTO FORUM, and, as a member of the University of Economics camera club, at the Fotószakkörök Országos Kiállítása (National exhibition of camera clubs) in Makó. He won first prize in a photo competition in Komárom, and submitted his photo Kalapos nő (Woman in hat) to the VIII. Kulich Gyula Országos Premfotókiállítás (8th Gyula Kulich National premier photo exhibition). He exhibited and won a prize at the IFJÚSÁG (Youth) national photo competition organized as part of the V. Szigetközi Napok (5th Szigetköz days) in Mosonmagyaróvár. At the ORWO-PENTACON competition, he won third prize. Still in 1973, his pictures appeared, among others, in the periodical A Jövő Mérnöke (Engineer of the future), and had his first solo show at the R.


Evaluation notification of the 5th Életünk (Lives we lived) photography competition


Sándor Kereki’s photo featured on the cover of the Jövő Mérnöke (Engineer of the future)


Winner’s certificate of the 5th Életünk (Lives we lived) photography competition


Evaluation notification of the 5th Életünk (Lives we lived) photography competition


Letter sent to Sándor Kereki in 1973


Photography competition winner’s notification


Poster promoting Sándor Kereki’s first solo show


In 1974, he took part in the Éltünk exhibition in Nagykanizsa again, received a prize at the ORWO-PENTACON international photo competition, and once more participated in the Kulich Gyula Országos Premfotókiállítás, as well as the Komárom photo competition. Furthermore, three of his photos were included in the travelling exhibition in Budapest and Moscow presenting the results of a competition organized by the Association of Hungarian Photographers and the Hungarian–Soviet Friendship Society. The whole 1974/1 issue of the magazine Impulzus (Impulse) was illustrated using his pictures.


Photography competition notification


Photography competition notification


Photography competition notification


Sándor Kereki’s photos in issue 1, 1974 of the magazine Impulzus (Impulse)


In 1977, the magazine Új Tükör (New mirror) published his photos accompanied by short “stories” by the writer Iván Mándy.


Sándor Kereki’s photos in the June 1977 issue of the magazine Új Tükör (New mirror), with text by Iván Mándy


In 1978, he married the teacher Kinga Zentai (b. 1959), and soon had three children; László was born in 1980, followed by Judit and Anna in 1982. Family always was central to him, he strived to be involved in raising the children. He took carpentry and construction works as secondary jobs, which prevented him from having the proper time for photography.


Kinga Zentai and Sándor Kereki on their honeymoon in Transylvania, 1978


From fall 1989, he worked at the national television’s news program. He travelled to numerous countries, visited curious places, and met a truly wide variety of people. In his recollections, he found news work the most fitting—as haphazard and unplannable as it was, demanding improvisation. While he worked at the News, he occasionally even undertook the tasks of chief cameraman. Later, he taught cinematography (primarily practical training) at the Teleschola television school.

He retired in 2011, as result of a downsizing.


Sándor Kereki with his son, László Kereki, 1983


Sándor Kereki at work, 1991


In 2021, 1,774 Sándor Kereki photos have been uploaded to Fortepan; an event reported by most photography websites. As Miklós Tamási noted on the online news portal Telex, “Kereki’s works are suitable for Magnum Photos or Life, Cartier-Bresson or Brassaï could have been his close partners. It is unimaginable that Sándor Keresi would be provided with a contract at the News Publishing Company’s central office on Blaha Lujza Square. Because the world was monoscopic after all, with a permanent whistling sound in the background.”


Sándor Kereki, portrait by: Szabolcs Barakonyi

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