Photographer of the Month: Alex Budak

Ed Forteau's picture

I'm excited to share more work from one of my favorite photographers, Alex Budak, as our February Photographer of the Month. We profiled Alex's blogging and photography here on Wandering Educators, in Sharing the Essence of Travel. Alex is now back from India, finishing his last term of grad school, and hosting a podcast for Ashoka focusing on social entrepreneurs from around the world utilizing technology in innovative ways to improve the world. 

Meanwhile, back to his extraordinary photography! Alex has 'the vision,' I call it - that special something that makes his photos stand out. Whether it is tracking a city at night, or exploring the world, Alex has taken some incredible photos.



Alex Budak - DC Monuments at night

 DC Monuments at night


Alex Budak - Fall Leaves

Fall Leaves


Alex Budak


We were lucky enough to sit down and chat with Alex, about photography, changing the world, rules for photographers, tips, and more. Here's what he had to say...



WE: How long have you been a photographer?

AB: Back when I was 13, I got an incredibly cool gift from my Uncle -- one of the very first digital cameras.  It was made by Agfa, its maximum resolution was 640x480, there was no LCD screen or optical zoom, and if you wanted to delete a picture, you had to assume it was bad, and then take a pencil to press an embedded button.  That's a long way of saying that I got into digital photography really early on, and I haven't looked back since.

Unlike most photographers, I've actually never really shot with a non-digital camera, so I feel that my photography has grown alongside the digital photography industry itself.  I guess that means I've been taking photos for 11 or so years now, but there's still so much to learn out there that I feel like I am still at the beginning.


Alex Budak -


Alex Budak - Violinist at the Metro Center

Violinist at the Metro Center


Alex Budak - Washington, DC



WE: How did you get interested in photography?

AB: Though I had been taking photos for a while, my interest didn't really take off until I got a more advanced camera with manual controls, and began teaching myself about shutter speeds, f-stops, and ISOs.  That interest escalated further on my first trip abroad -- backpacking through Europe during winter break with two of my best friends.  I've found that photography which challenges both your left and right brain makes for a great endeavor, and, with so much to see in the world, I will never run out of fascinating photo opportunities.  It's a great compliment to my travel addiction.



Alex Budak - Dulles



Alex Budak


Alex Budak - Flight to Ahmedabad

Flight to Ahmedabad


Alex Budak - Sidi Bashir Mosque

Sidi Bashir Mosque



WE: What is your favorite place to photograph? Or subject?

AB: Though there's something I love about twilight scenes in the city -- with all of the colorful lights contrasting with the blue hues in the sky of various shades -- I find my travel and my photography go hand-in-hand.  I don't claim any real expertise in photography, but, like a chameleon, I feel my inspiration adapts to my environment.  In Iceland, I snapped pictures as I stood in awe of the natural world around me; in India the craziness of everyday life brought my camera out of my pocket; and in Berlin the city's contrast and contradictions caught my eye (and my lens).


Alex Budak - Night Bazaar, India

Night Bazaar, India


Alex Budak - Train Station, India


Alex Budak - Camel Riding

Camel Riding



WE: How can photographers help change/impact the world, while they are traveling?

AB: I'm extremely cognizant of how lucky I am to be able to travel, and to have seen as much of the world as I have thus far in my life.  As a result, I'm aware of the millions that want to see the world, but for whatever restrictions have not been able to do so.  With this comes a keen understanding that through photography I'm able to share what life is like outside of our borders with others that may never be able to see it for themselves.  When you consider what a small percentage of Americans have passports, as well as how superfluously much of the world is treated through our media system, it's no wonder that many people don't understand what life is like north, south, east, and west from where they live.  It's my hope that through sharing photos and stories that people are both inspired to want to see foreign countries, as well as to bring a better understanding of the humanity that binds us all -- regardless of nationality.


Alex Budak - Wandering in Udaipur

Wandering in Udaipur


Alex Budak - Kumbhalgarh Fort

Kumbhalgarh Fort


Alex Budak - Udaipur Sunset

Udaipur Sunset



WE: Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?

AB: There are, but honestly I don't have any good advice beyond trying to be respectful.  In India, especially, I found myself unsure many times as to whether or not it was appropriate to photograph what I was seeing.  If photographing people, I would make special effort to make eye contact and smile with a nod before proceeding, although sometimes, even when I thought my photo was harmless, I'd get someone shaking a finger at me or telling me no.  In short, I can't give a good rubric on how to decide what's on or off limits, I can only suggest that you bring a positive outlook, be friendly, and apologize if you over-stepped your bounds.


Alex Budak - Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal


Alex Budak - Dupont Escalator

Dupont Escalator


Alex Budak - arriving at Reagan Airport

Arriving at Reagan Airport



WE: Any tips you want to share?

AB: Yes -- the best camera is the one you always have with you!  The beauty of travel is that it opens up your eyes to new ways of seeing even the most mundane things in the world. Having a camera with you — and as a result thinking of what could make an interesting shot — refocuses your mind on your travels allowing you to better connect with your surroundings. I’ve found that as much as I enjoy reliving my travels through my photos in which I took the time to compose a shot, often-times the spontaneous snapshot — the dog bathing itself in a tub of water following a rain storm in India, or a ridiculous sign in Russia — bring back the strongest memories. Indeed, it’s because of this that I eschew the big SLR cameras, preferring, instead, to rely upon a pocket-sized model that can be taken anywhere at anytime. Besides, traveling around with a huge black camera is a good way of drawing unwanted attention to yourself, and, afterall, a great photo should be all about the subject, not the means of capturing it.


Alex Budak - sign in Moscow

sign in Moscow


Alex Budak - LA



Alex Budak - LA



Alex Budak - South Dakota

Central California



WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

AB: Thanks so much, Jessie, for selecting me as photographer of the month!  I'm honored to be included with so many talented photographers!


Alex Budak - church in the middle of nowhere

church in the middle of nowhere


Alex Budak


Alex Budak



WE: Thanks so very much, Alex. I love your work!

for more information, please see:

Twitter @Abudak