Peering in closely, they resemble a black and white abstract sundial–grey shadows ticking off the sands of time; a sensually, curved steel boomerang or a vast spider web of cables clinging to passing clouds. Actually optical illusions, one is surprised to see the images morphing into the architecturally organic Bridges Series of award-winning photographs by Canadian photographer, Sharon Tenenbaum. Recently, she was awarded 1st place in the 2015 International Photography Awards (Bridges Category,) having also won in 2013.
Last year Tenenbaum was the winner of Paint The City’s Canadian social network competition sponsored by outdoor advertising company Allvision. She had four of her photographs featured on billboards along highways throughout Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal .
It’s no coincidence that her photographs assimilate nature through geometry. Israeli-born Sharon Tenenbaum studied at Haifa’s Technion Israel Institute of Technology to become a civil engineer. Her metamorphosis from engineering into photojournalism, then fine art architectural photography is all the more inspiring because she is completely self-taught.
“After I moved to Vancouver in 2001 and was working for a company as a civil engineer, I always felt that something was missing- that I wasn’t being true to myself and I was in a rut,” she admits. “So I booked what was to be a life-changing trip to Southeast Asia in 2006 and actually started taking photographs with a point-and –shoot camera my Dad gave me,” she laughs. In 2007 when I came back, I decided to quit my job and devote myself to photography. And yes, a lot of people tried to discourage me!”
Tenenbaum has since refined her long exposure techniques –her distinctive style – winning numerous awards and citations from the International Photography Awards and Prix de la Photographie Paris. Her Capilano Suspension Bridge and Jerusalem Chords Bridgephotographs were published in the prestigious LensWork Magazine. A spontaneous capture of a Buddist monk in Burma catching his robe on scaffolding (“on my birthday so it brought me luck”,) was published in National Geographic. Her newest project is painting in oils and acrylics on her black and white photographs. She has also written several eBooks and video tutorials on creativity and photography.
In conjunction with the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, Sharon Tenenbaum created her compelling black and white photo essay, Baring Bravery – The Spirit Behind the Canadian Paralympians. She saw the inner strength and courage of the athletes in transcending their physical disabilities and sensitively captured their nude and semi-nude athletic bodies in her photographs.
She has also parlayed her art into annual teaching workshops on location around the world. With fellow award-winning photographer, Joel Tjintjelaar, cinematographer, Armand Dijicks, (both based in Rotterdam) and managed by Daniel Portal (Boston,) Tenenbaum created Vision Explorers offering hands-on workshops to small groups in Melbourne, New York and Chicago. In 2015 Tenenbaum independently teamed-up for a workshop with internationally award-winning architect, urban designer and photographer, Rick Hulbert in Chicago April 17-19, 2015. Then she joins Vision Explorers for a New York City workshop May 15-17, 2015. “We take groups of 12 to 20 not only to shoot all of the iconic buildings in each city but to secret places off the beaten track that tourists don’t know about,” Tenenbaum explains.
“People think we’re just born with creativity – you either have it or you don’t. I disagree,” she says. We‘ve had people from teens to age 70 in our workshops and teach them how to actually see differently when they’re photographing. People’s senses are just bombarded everyday with images and no thought. We show them that it’s okay to colour ‘outside the lines’. Then it’s quite amazing to see how they can express their creativity and passion that’s been hidden inside themselves all along.”