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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

The Balance of Image

Anthem resident and photographer, Bob Elenbaas, was born and raised in Southern California. He moved to the Bay Area in 1968 to attend pharmacy school at the University of California-San Francisco. There he met his wife Julia, also a pharmacist, and they were married in 1972. By 1974 the couple was relocating to the Kansas City area following the completion of their residencies. Elenbaas explains his initiation to landscape and nature photography by saying, "My interest in photography began while I was in pharmacy school in San Francisco. The Parks and Recreation Department offered a photography center that had a huge darkroom for making black and white prints. I took advantage of the facility to learn basic darkroom techniques." The experience was the beginning of Elenbaas's interest in fine art photography.

Beginning their careers in Kansas City Elenbaas and his wife found work and family life would claim top priority. But the camera was never far away. Elenbaas states, "Although not trained formally as an artist I did learn some elements of graphic design in high school as a member of the yearbook staff. I was also introduced to aspects of color theory during one of the fine art electives required at the time, but I was focused on science during my early formal education." The science took hold in his career as a clinical pharmacist with the Emergency Department at Truman Medical Center and as a faculty member of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine. Elenbaas is recognized as being the first clinical pharmacist in the country to practice full-time in emergency medicine. He became one of the members of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy eventually becoming its first Executive Director.

"I am frequently amazed and awed by things I find in nature, its peace and tranquility occasionally contrasted with its to the rage and fury."

The initiation to relocate back to the western U.S. began 15 years ago for the Elenbaas family, their careers were winding down and they began to research areas to relocate, Anthem, Arizona was the choice. They found the area had many benefits; easy to access their families in Southern California, a vibrant golf community, and the endless beauty of the valley's high desert. A renewed interest in photography started with joining friends on wilderness backpacking trips into the mountains of Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. Places so fascinating and beautiful they defied words, but Elenbaas found he could convey the moments and stories in his images. He admits, "The advent of digital cameras and the digital darkroom were major factors in facilitating this evolution. There was a chance to apply classical darkroom techniques, with the more specific digital darkroom techniques when creating my images."

Professional photographers that Elenbaas credits with his growth in the medium are Guy Tal, Michael Frye, Charlotte Gibb, and Sean Bagshaw. All have uniquely different styles, subject matter, and developing techniques. When asked where he derives his inspiration Elenbaas says, "Our natural world amazes me, be it grand vistas or intimate details one sees only on close inspection. I seek to communicate aspects of our world that people may not normally appreciate." "I include the Japanese kanji "wa" as part of my logo, which translates as 'harmony' and 'peace.' As in being in harmony with one's environment and in a peaceful state of mind." Elenbaas considers his photography to be an expressive art form, using his images as visual metaphors for the emotions he felt when he was making the photograph. Bob Elenbaas is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and is a founding member of the Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek. Bob Elenbaas participates in the Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour each November and occasionally does pop-up shows with the League during the year.


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