Be Coultique – Bob Sala

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Sich wirklich lebendig fühlen – in jedem Augenblick, dies hält Bob Sala in soften Farben mit einem Quäntchen Hippie-Nostalgie und Charme der 60er und 70er Jahre fest. Der Paderborner Autodidakt und Journalist Marvin Kleinemeier wählte für seine Fotografie den Namen Bob Sala, ein fiktiver Charakter der Romanfigur aus „The Rum Diary“ von Hunter S. Thompson, der seinen Lebensunterhalt als Fotograf in San Juan bestreitet.

Elle:
How did you become involved with photography? Do you remember your first camera?

Bob Sala:

Photography was my plan b. I always wanted to write, to be a journalist or even a novelist. I started working for local newspapers when I was 16, writing a weekly column in the teen section. At some point in my early twenties they needed me to bring home a picture with my articles, so they wouldn’t have to hire an additional photographer for these little stories anymore. I saved up money for a year and bought an amateur DSLR with kit zoom, a Nikon D40, and used that for 10 years. I stopped writing when I was 28. I didn’t feel that it was leading to anything. That led to a little crisis around my 30th birthday and from then on I put all of my energy and money into photography.

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Elle:
How would you describe your style?

Bob Sala:

That’s a tough one. Some people call it vintage boudoir. I am definetely influenced by the culture of the 60s and 70s, but very specific parts of that culture. I am inspired by novels and movies as much as by photographers, painters or philosphers. The most important part of my style is the relation to the people I photograph. So maybe it’s that. Relating to people and reminiscing over long forgotten times together.

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Elle:
Which photographers do you admire?

Bob Sala:

Starting out, Ryan McGinley has been a huge influence. Also Alberto García Alix from spain. Then there is Neal Preston, tour photographer of Led Zeppelin, who became somewhat of a friend and who I am going to visit in Las Vegas next week. I also like darker documentary stuff like Anders Petersen and JH Engström. Saul Leiter!!

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Elle:
How do you pick your models. What kind of features should a model have to work with you?

Bob Sala:

For most of my personal projects I find my models on facebook or nowadays instagram. I usually follow them for some time first, to get a feeling about them as a person, looking at their stories and what they write with their pictures. It has to match on a personal level somehow. Then an affinity for the culture of the 60s or 70s is definetely a plus. Everything else is gut feeling.

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Elle:
Would you give a brief walk through your work flow?

Bob Sala:

It starts with intense chats with the model, trying to find a direction to go for. My personal sessions are ussually pretty long. Not because I take that many photos, but because I want to know the people I am photographing a little better. Finding similarities, interests, what drives people. I try to pull them into my world while at the same time giving them the space to feel completely at ease with themselves. I don’t do very much in post. I create my looks with lightroom. I change my look about two to three times a year. I don’t use photoshop for personal projects. So the picture is almost finished out of camera. I love taking photographs, not sitting in front of a display.

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Elle:
What is the one photograph that you are most proud of?

Bob Sala:

That photograph doesnt exist. There are so many stories to my images, I couldn’t pick one. Not because I think they are that good, but because there are so many meaningful pictures and memories to me. But there is a photograph that means very to me. It’s not a photo by me though. It’s a photo by Neal Preston. He signed it for me the evening we first met.

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Elle:
How are you promoting yourself these days? Do you handle all of your own PR or is that something that your agent takes care of for you?

Bob Sala:

I am doing everything on my own. It’s not easy, though. My style represents too much of a niche for most agencies. So I have to rely on hard work, luck and karma. But I am very happy with the way things are going right now.

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