Bob Sala is many things. First, he is a fictional byproduct of the late Hunter S. Thompson. In that context, the name traces back to 1959, the year Hunter began a manuscript about Paul Kemp, a budding New York journalist. As the story goes, Kempt finds himself in the impoverished pits of Puerto Rico, having failed to sell books of worthy amount back home. Freshly chained to a wheezing English language newspaper, Kemp soon meets Bob Sala, a man who assures him of the publication’s demise.
Typical of Hunter’s extensive oeuvre, the novel was a frenetic, alcohol-drenched tale. Titled ‘The Rum Diary’, it was completed in 1961 and published in 1988. During the year 2000, two independent production companies attempted to turn the book into a film. The debacle was a practice described as a “waterhead fuckaround” by the author himself. A similar scenario unfolded in 2002, before the book was given some justice in 2011, finally reaching the big screen.
In the movie, Bob Sala was played by Michael Rispoli. To me, Sala’s character was just one cog in the movie’s portrayal of pursuing triumph, whatever that may be, however it may come. And perhaps that was the inspiration for the Bob Sala this article is truly about, a German photographer who lists writing as his true love. As for the photography? Well, it was a vessel birthed in order to carry his words toward publication.
In a recent interview with C-heads, Sala explained, “The editors wouldn’t hire you for small articles unless you were able to also bring a decent picture that could go with the publication of your articles.” For me, it’s this concept – one in which an alternate route becomes paramount in the success of a more desired path – that ties Sala, the photographer, with The Rum Diary and everything such a tale encompasses.
The Bob Sala moniker has written two unpublished books, is an official Fuji-X photographer and enjoys the simple things in life: camping, reading, wine. Through his photography, he wonderfully recreates the days of yore, owning a catalogue of imagery that serves as a momentary timewarp. More than all of the above though, Bob is a humble man, a trait sometimes lost when one is so often surrounded by beautiful women.
His own website says it best: “Stuck between 1963 and 1974, Bob Sala tries to photograph his way out of time and space. “The grain in a photograph produces the same warm feeling in me, a needle produces on an old Led Zeppelin record”, he says.