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This is how I met with Pal Nanasi...

Updated: May 19


I was sitting in a marketing planning class at university when the announcement came that from the next day, we wouldn't have to go to school anymore: the virus had reached our country.

Nobody knew what would happen next. Originally, I thought I would stay in Budapest, doing my things. After returning from China, I spent six months in Nyíregyháza. I returned to Budapest in September 2019, which I was really looking forward to. Then I was looking forward to spring, to be able to organize some activities. But when it turned out that this was a serious situation, and we might face weeks of lockdown, I went home to my family and spent the quarantine period with them. I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was disappointed because I had planned so well what I would do, how the spring would pass, but on the other hand, I was happy to be with my family so much again. I can't even remember the last time this happened. Maybe it never did because everyone was always on the move, taking care of their own things, but now we had to stop for a moment, rearrange our lives for the quarantine situation. Who has what tasks, who will work in which room, and how will we stand each other for 24 hours a day. Finally, fortunately, there was no problem with this. :)

Although there was online teaching at the university, I think we've never had so much to do as in that semester. The number of assignments doubled, we had to pay attention to even more deadlines, and we had to manage at least four different group projects, all while being hundreds of kilometers apart. The first step was to create a huge spreadsheet to keep track of tasks and see what assignments awaited me. The first few weeks were just about schoolwork.

Around February, Nánási Pál announced a photo contest called Big Shot, where photographers could compete. Imagine it like X Factor, but for photography. There were preselections, and then the TOP 10 were selected... but they couldn't announce the TOP 10 because by then the virus had arrived, and they couldn't continue the contest (I didn't apply for this competition). Due to the quarantine situation, they came up with the idea of ​​announcing a Big Shot Homework every week, which anyone who likes photography, not just those who signed up for the original Big Shot, can apply for.

Every week there was a theme around which photos had to be taken. Along with the photos, a short video had to be recorded, from which Pál compiled episodes for YouTube. Every week, he selected the TOP 10, from which the weekly winner was chosen by audience vote.

For the first three weeks, I was just an observer. I really liked the show; people sent in a lot of creative and clever photos. I thought if there was a theme that I immediately had an idea for, I would also submit a photo. The task for the 4th week was self-portrait. The competition went like this: on Thursday, the new episode came out, at the end of which Pál announced the topic of the next week's assignment, for which photos could be submitted until midnight on Monday. On Sunday, we were just taking our health walk with the family (away from people on the outskirts of the city) in a small meadow, when Mom found 2-3 flowering tree branches. When I saw them, inspiration struck me immediately, I knew what photo I was going to take. Monday morning, still in my pajamas, with a sleepy head, I quickly tested my idea to see if it would work. After four weeks, I finally put on some makeup again, set up the tripod, and sat down in the dining room by the window. The light was just right, but I didn't have much time. My concept was that the shadow of the flowering branch filtered through the window would be visible on my face, making it look like it was painted on. I took the photos, selected three, edited them, and then came the "harder" part: making the video where I talk about what photo I took and why. I don't often talk to the camera just for myself, so it was a bit unusual at first. I tried not to talk too much and to articulate my thoughts coherently. After that, I sent the video and the photos, and I eagerly awaited Thursday evening. Honestly, all I hoped for was that if they show my photos for just 1 second, it would already be a huge thing for me.

A little "Behind the Scenes" video:

On Thursday evening, I sat my mom and dad in front of the TV so we could watch the YouTube broadcast "live," and even my brother, Marci, occasionally popped in to see what was happening. I tried to stay calm, but of course, I was excited. The participants sent in really great photos again. Some had concepts similar to mine, but the photographers approached the task a bit differently. As I mentioned earlier, it took quite a while for me to have any motivation to put on a little makeup, which I also talked about in my video, and I wasn't alone in this. Several contestants mentioned it, so they first cut this little excerpt from my video. Needless to say, I was already completely done with this... and then my photos flashed on the screen... The announcement of the TOP 10 had arrived. Pál announced the contestants in alphabetical order, so it wasn't hard to follow whether I still had a chance or not. When Pál announced the TOP 10, at one point, his daughter Mici and their dog Sári joined him, so when he announced the next contestant, they were there too. And then he said: "Can we move on to the next one? Here's a photo by Magyar Sára..." In that moment, I screamed and jumped up, much to the delight of the neighbors, and I couldn't believe what was happening. Pál said such beautiful things about my photo that I will never forget (even Mici mentioned that she liked the photos too). I can't express how much it means to me that Nánási Pál, a photographer whom I followed since I was 12, whose interviews I watched, appreciated my photos. He highlighted that one thing he really liked in the photos was the positivity. Due to the situation, many showed the difficulties in their photos, but since I am a positive person, I wanted to approach the task from a positive perspective. You can see the excerpt in the video:

You can watch the full broadcast at this link:

After making it into the TOP 10, the winner was determined by who gathered the most likes on Facebook and Instagram, but honestly, it already meant a huge deal to me that my photo made it this far.

With the end of the quarantine, the home assignments slowly came to an end as well. I think many of us were grateful to have spent the quarantine period so creatively thanks to Pál and his team. I knew that the winners would be invited to the Nánási Studio to receive their prizes, but at that point, I never expected that I would also be there at the award ceremony...

... In early September, I received an email from the Big Shot team. I read it four times to make sure they sent it to me. The message stated that they warmly invite me to the Big Shot meetup, where we can meet the staff and the contestants. While I didn't become a winner of the home assignments, they also expected the TOP 10 contestants to attend the meeting, as well as the original contestants from the Big Shot competition semi-finals. Needless to say, I was filled with excitement to meet Pál and the others, and to see the Nánási Studio. The meeting was a great success, everyone was very kind and friendly. Apart from the Big Shot team, Mici, Venci, Nóri, and of course, their dog Sári were also there. They handed out the prizes and announced the TOP 10 contestant of the Big Shot competition, which was interrupted due to the quarantine, plus, based on the home assignments, an additional contestant made it into the consolation prize, making it 11 photographers competing to become the winner of Big Shot. Since then, a few episodes of the competition have been released, and I recommend everyone to watch them! Finally, a high-quality and inspiring show from which you can also learn! :)

Links to "Big Shot - The Camera Is Yours" episodes:

This whole story is something I never thought I would experience. Even now, as I write these lines, there's a 1000-watt smile on my face, realizing how lucky I am to enrich my #neverforget list with such experiences.

I can hardly wait for the continuation...

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