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Portfolio of
 Bob Sanov 

Florence, Oregon
United States

Media Type(s):

e-Mail Artist

Galleries in Portfolio:

Abstract and Still Life
Canyons of the Colorado Plateau
Most recent work
Newest editions
The Nude
The Nude (recent work)
The Pacific Northwest
The Southwest
The West

View Artist Statement

Gallery Direct Interview with BOB SANOV

Bob Sanov, is a traditional photographer who is a master at his craft both in and out of the darkroom. Waiting for just the right light, he works magic to transform the sensuous contours of the landscape and the sensuality of the human form into a black and white image. His images are reflections of his feelings about a subject and itıs in the darkroom that he brings his images to life to represent these feelings.

Charles & Ann by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3591
Charles & Ann

I understand you were trained as a musician and graduated with a degree in music at Northwestern University. What was the motivating factor that led to your becoming interested in photography.

I have to confess that as a performing musician, I was always somewhat envious of photographers and artists of other media who could work in solitude without the added pressure of live audiences, conductors, record producers etc. In a live performance there are no second chances, whereas in my darkroom, nobody is witness to my countless errors & miscalculations.

Cala Lily by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3579
Cala Lily

What similarities do you see between music and photography?

I've always considered black & white fine-art photography as the equivalent of classical music and truly believe Ansel Adams's analogy that "the negative is the score and the print is the performance". Many of the finest black & white photographers/printers including Ansel Adams, Paul Caponegro, Don Worth, Huntington Witherill, Oliver Gagliani, Jay Dusard, Howard Bond and many others, had extensive musical training before becoming photographers.

Dune Forms, Death Valley by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3571
Dune Forms, Death Valley

What formal or informal training in photography have you found the most useful?

Most of my photography training has come from workshops with Bruce Barnbaum, John Sexton, Ray Mcsavenney, Lucien Clergue et. al., in addition to a great deal of reading and looking at the work of other photographers.

1965 Morgan plus 4 by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-10156
1965 Morgan plus 4

How advantageous do you feel an institutional education in photography is for an aspiring photographer?

Difficult for me to answer that since most of the photographers I admire and have come in contact with are not products of institutional training.


What format cameras do you own and which do you use the most often?

Since 1984 I have worked exclusively with a 4x5 view camera & sheet film, but for a short time in the early 1980's I did use a medium format roll film Pentax 6x7.

Cracked Mud & Pillars by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3604
Cracked Mud & Pillars

Could you tell us what time of day and what type of light you prefer to photograph your subject in order to record the types of images you are after.

I don't really believe there is such a thing as good or bad light. Light simply has to suit the subject matter. The type of light I prefer for making dramatic dune images would be disastrous to use for photographing in a forest or portrait photography. In many of my images it is the light itself that has dictated subject matter.

Nude with Cello by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-7237
Nude with Cello

Your darkroom is where you do the magic to your prints. Could you tell us how you make an image come alive in the darkroom?

Much like music, negatives require a great deal of personal interpretation to produce expressive and meaningful exhibit prints. Although it's commonly believed that a traditional wet darkroom is limited to simple dodging & burning, I regularly use multiple filtration, unsharp masking, flashing, bleaching, pencil dodging masks, selenium intensification of negatives etc.......sort of the horse & buggy version of Photoshop. All of these techniques however, should be seamless and invisible and the illusion for the viewer, if done correctly, is an image that looks completely natural and unmanipulated.

"Abbey Country" Muley Pt. by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3595
"Abbey Country" Muley Pt.

What photographic papers have given you the best results for specific applications.

I'm currently using Kodak Polymax Fine Art cold tone fiber-base paper for my landscapes images. (stored in my freezer since Kodak no longer produces photographic paper) The nudes are printed on Forte or Ilford warm tone paper. Both are selenium toned for archival considerations as well as enhanced blacks.

Corn Lily & Flower by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3599
Corn Lily & Flower

In your opinion, what elements are required to make a good ³Fine Art² photograph?

The elements I consider to be of prime importance are: 1) luminosity 2) composition 3) tonal rendition. The element I consider to be of least importance is specific subject matter. This is true of my own work as well as looking at the work of other photographers.

Tsunami Wave #2, Oregon Coast by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-3565
Tsunami Wave #2, Oregon Coast

Name some of the photographers who inspire you the most and why?

Probably the strongest influence in my decision to pursue photography came after seeing an exhibit of Ansel Adams in Carmel in the 1970's and realizing for the very first time that here was a medium as powerful as music. Other strong influences and for the same reasons are Brett Weston, Bruce Barnbaum, John Sexton, Don Worth, Ruth Bernhardt and dozens of others. All of these artists produce beautiful, luminous, & memorable images.

Kelp, Bandon Oregon by Bob Sanov
Artwork-ID: 103-7232
Kelp, Bandon Oregon

Has digital photography made any kind of impact on your work?

I am deeply committed to the gelatin-silver process ( also, considering platinum/pallidium), so as long as materials continue to be available I will continue working as I have been for the past 25 years, in a traditional wet darkroom.


What advice can you give to aspiring photographers? (be they, hobbyists, artists, or professionals)

If it's not your best work......DON'T SHOW IT!!!!

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