When Laszlo Bencze’s brother-in-law, George, was a kid in New Hampshire his father, fed up with life, would threaten the family by saying, “I’m going to Roseville.” Everyone understood Roseville, California as the end of the line, as far away as you could get. Those words always scared little George.
In 2010 Bencze moved to Roseville. He looked around and noticed that other than the giant Union Pacific rail yard, it was not much different from the little Ohio town where he had grown up. There were old buildings in the tiny downtown area around which circled neighborhoods dating from early to mid 20th century. As a teenager Bencze had photographed his hometown and exhibited the results in the local library. He decided to do the same for Roseville.
“I walk around the town—slowly—with my camera, observing. I look hard because without hard looking nothing is seen.” He photographed mostly during the magic hours of dusk and dawn. Like a haiku poet, Bencze revels in stringent limitations: one lens, no zoom. For most of the photographs in the show he used the Canon 50 mm f1.0 lens introduced with much fanfare in 1989 and long out of production. With the aperture wide open the lens induces a sort of shimmery loneliness true to a mood of quietude.
“George and I are friends. He now sees comforting familiarity in Roseville. Amidst the coziness, I see peculiarities and eccentricities that alert me to just how exotic America really is,” Bencze reflected.
Laszlo Bencze is a photographer living in Roseville with his wife Candace Collins. Commercially he specializes in the mining industry. His assignments have taken him to five continents and twenty-seven countries. As an art photographer he has had one person shows in Wilmington Ohio, Tucson Arizona, Portland Oregon, Leadville Colorado, and Sacramento. He also presents workshops in conjunction with Viewpoint and individually.
He has received numerous awards over the years. His England Sampler, a self-promotional booklet, amassed a total of 12 awards, including those from The Art Directors Club of New York and the Communication Arts Annual. He was chosen first ever Photographer of the Year by the Portland Oregonian in 1984. One of his images was selected by Kodak to hang at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center in Florida.
“The photographers I most admire—folks like Kertész, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Weston, & Dorothea Lange—were heavily invested in the art of making everyday things look fascinating. I often feel I am looking with their eyes as I regard the world around me.”