‘BlackBook Presents’ Gallery Preview: Bob Tabor’s New Photo Book ‘Splash’ Captures the Power + Mystery of the Ocean


“I was made with a heart of stone
To be broken
With one hard blow
I’ve seen the ocean
Break on the shore
Come together with no harm done…”

“Ocean Size”, Jane’s Addiction, lyrics by Perry Farrell


We find mystery in the dark of the forests, in the twinkling of the stars…but perhaps nothing so intrigues and mystifies us at once as the world’s plentiful oceans, in all their enigmatic vastness.

Photographer Bob Tabor (who was recently part of the inaugural show at the BlackBook Presents Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn) is also uniquely aware of their power to hold us visually rapt. In fact, he has devoted an entire new book to the subject, fittingly titled Splash (released through ACC Art Books). In it, he uses skillful cropping to create images that convey both the awesome power, and the ineffable beauty of the ocean. Waves seem to be dancing playfully on one page, and threatening ominously on yet another.



His camera captures that which our eyes could certainly never, considering the speed and relentlessness with which the ocean goes about its daily rhythms, in communion with the so many other equally powerful elements of nature.

We sat Tabor down to discuss his love/hate relationship with the sea, and how it made this stunning new book possible. His solo exhibition based on the book will open at the BlackBook Presents Gallery on April 17, on which date he will also be present for a special signing.

What made you decide to move on from a Madison Avenue career to do photography?

Entering the Madison Avenue workforce in the 1960’s as an Art Director for an ad agency, I became part of a creative mecca. I experienced total freedom to create “smart”advertising. Unfortunately, over the years I witnessed the walls crumble. Holding-company CFOs and accountants destroyed the “Mad Men” and homogenized the creative process.

What and who were some of your initial inspirations?

Being fortunate to have worked as a creative person in an ad agency, I was able to work with the best storytellers – masters in photography, film and design. A day didn’t go by without me learning how to see things in a graphic, inevitable approach – how to tell a story in a fresh engaging way.

Did a particular artistic philosophy develop fairly quickly?

Yes. My philosophy is “less is more.” ‘Simplicity”; “Clean”; “Direct”; “Engaging” communications.

How did you decide on the theme of the new book Splash?

I believe my photographs capture the raw power of the sea. The most energetic section of the surf is when it breaks and the “splash” reaches for the sky.


Some of the photographs have a very intimate quality, yet others feel epic. What is your relationship with the ocean?

I always had a fascination with it. As a child my family spent our summers in a bungalow colony near the ocean, in Far Rockaway, Queens. The sound, smell and beauty of the sea has and will always be part of my life.

Water is essential to life, but also has the power to kill. Do you find the ocean more comforting, or intimidating?

During one hot summer day at the age of three, my dad picked me up in his arms and joyfully ran into the cool ocean surf. His good intentions were quickly taken away when a powerful wave knocked me out of his arms and pulled me under to uncertain drowning. The next thing I remember is having CPR being performed on me trying to bring me back to life. So, I have a love/hate relationship with the sea. I came close to giving up my life to it, but it’s calming, soothing mood-changing movement and smell brings me to the shoreline year after year.

What story are you trying to tell with Splash

Everyone has a moment, a day, a stretch of time, when they long to escape; to leave the multiple pressures of life behind and bask in a little peace and tranquility. My memories and dreams mix together in a multitude of emotions. The ocean allows me to dream a new story when I look out beyond the horizon.

What do you hope people will take away from it?

I want the viewer to get in touch with their inner feelings, to create their own story looking out from the shoreline. A moment in time. No phones, no computers, no outside pressure. Just a place to call your own.



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