The Lens of Anthony Verebes

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Anthony Verebes Photography

Capturing beauty and emotion in a moment of time is the driving force behind the work of Malibu-based photographer Anthony Verebes. A freelance photographer with more than 30 years experience, Verebes also finds beauty where other eyes don’t dare to explore.

The artist-photographer has shared with The Malibu Times his work that has been exhibited not only in Malibu, but also in Brentwood, the Swiss Consulate in Los Angeles and in Palm Springs.

Verebes, who grew up in the U.S. and Switzerland, started his career with an unusual assignment.  His aunt, Trudi Schoop, had been a well-known dancer in Europe before WWII. She then became a dance therapist and eventually started the Dance Therapy Association of America. Schoop mimicked the mentally ill by using their body language. 

“That was the first point of contact they had on the road to recovery,” Verebes said.

Schoop’s techniques were well regarded and Verebes went to Switzerland to photograph his aunt and her groundbreaking work. The result was solarized, high-contrast photos that evoke a well of sadness and isolation.

Not only was Verebes’ aunt in the arts, his father was a successful actor in Switzerland and his mother was a ceramist who later owned a ceramics factory in North Hollywood. It wasn’t until Verebes was a young man that he decided to also pursue art at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and the California Institute of Arts.  It was during graduation from Brooks when Verebes first encountered the preeminent architectural photographer Julius Shulman, who was giving an address.

The young photographer was impressed with Shulman.

“He started talking about eating an apple and he said, ‘How can anybody photograph an apple until they’ve eaten one and tasted the texture?’” Verebes recalled. “I was so impressed with his speech that when I came to LA, I actually just knocked on his door and asked him if I could be an apprentice to him. I did that for 10 years.” Verebes eventually started his own architectural photography business travelling around the country shooting modernist buildings as he did with the master. It was Shulman who then recommended Verebes for another unusual job.

Verebes then became the official photographer to what was once the country’s largest hazardous materials cleaning service. For 15 years, often donning a hazmat suit himself, he documented workers cleaning up hazardous material spills and sites. There was one job that stood out as the best he’s ever had.

“It was fascinating; I was the company artist,” he said. “When I got to these job sites, I found it really interesting. I got to be creative with my photography and how I could get onto the sites. I had to be cunning sometimes to get into restricted areas — it was an adventure and I love adventures.”

Already a seasoned world traveler, Verebes said it had been his dream to travel to Nepal. On one of his many trips with his wife, Diane Shields, he went to Katmandu and photographed the Hindu monks known as Sadhus. 

Verebus explained one of their holy rituals.

“I photographed this guy at a burial site. The white on his face is [because] after they cremate people, there’s a river, they throw the ashes in. These Sadhus grab the ashes and rub it all over their face,” Verebes said. “That’s what the white part is.

“This is the kind of photography I really love. I love to get the unusual, the different, the bizarre,” he continued. “They were all very receptive to letting me take their photograph. I usually gave them a few rupees and they were very happy with that.”  Some proceeds from these photos went to a nonprofit that rescues victims of sex trafficking in Nepal.

Now 70, Verebes — who has called Malibu home for 40 years — says he’s looking for a new project.  

“I’d love to be able to collaborate with a writer. I like to get emotionally involved. I like to lie in bed and think, ‘How am I going to make this better the next day? What would I have to build to be able to take this photograph?’ That’s really what I love to do. I like a project.

“I took pictures of AIDS patients for Aids Project LA,” he recalled. “It was an ongoing thing — I looked forward to it. Every time I went out there was something new, there was something emotional, there was something psychological. It was such a great assignment.”  

 

To view more of the artist’s work, visit avfoto.com.