In 2013, Budapest-based photographer Eva Szombat published Happiness Book—a “kitsch” visual guide to happiness. This past March, she released a follow-up called Practitioners. The photo series shows Hungarian locals doing the sometimes charming and sometimes inexplicable things they enjoy, from balloon twisting to frog collecting.
In 1998, Hungary was given the rather unfortunate title of the world's most depressed nation. And only a few years ago, there was a study that showed one in three Hungarians experienced depression. Szombat wants to combat the country's sullen and gloomy disposition by showing the merrier side of the nation.
She told Someecards:
The Hungarians really like to complain, and we are the one of the most depressed nations. So I decided to make a practical guide to achieve happiness, full of irony and kitsch. After the fictional world of the Happiness Book I have decided to document actual people, who have introduced happiness into their lives to overcome misfortunes, tragedies, nuisances, or just the banality of day to day living.
The message Szombat hopes to relay with the series is that "happiness awaits for everyone, but we have to be proactive in finding what makes us happy, then we have to practice that."
The photographer said this series took her weeks to complete but the individual photos took "sometimes just an hour or a single moment." She also expressed that working with the models made her feel more positive.
So what is happiness and how do we get more of it? After all her research, Szombat defines happiness as something that "depends on us, what we do and how we live, and most importantly, the quality of our relationships."