Vladimir Panasenko


Born in 1939 in Kharkov, Ukraine, at the age of ten Vladimir Panasenko emigrated to the United States with his family who, swept away by the war, chose San Francisco, CA for their new home. Known on the streets simply as Vladimir, he has called the Bay Area his home ever since. Vladimir is an incredibly prolific artist who has photographed the streets of San Francisco for over three decades now. Unlike a lot of Leica specialists, Vladimir's influences include outlaw Billy the Kid, race car driver Juan Manuel Fangio and WWII ace Erich Hartmann. From these he learned to increase his reaction time and to follow three rules: always take your subject by surprise, always shoot from the closest possible distance, and break away immediately after shooting.

Vladimir's extensive body of work is as astonishing as any discovered in recent years. Working Women. Pursuit of Pleasure. Rich & Poor. Homeless. Birds. Pairs. These are the themes that comprise C'est la Vie in B&W. Vladimir's favorite area to photograph has been and continues to be Mid Market Street, with its bustle and wide mix of people. His photographs study the lives of the very rich, the very poor and everyone in between. Each image is powerful on its own, and when viewed in pairs the effect is breathtaking.

Vladimir's cameras are an important part of his work and his craft extends to his custom Leica film cameras with their wood and brass. When asked about them, Vladimir states, "I would like to quote ancient Ukranian folk wisdom: If you want a wife who will always stay by your side, marry someone so ugly that nobody will want to touch her. I am married to my Leica M2's. I chose them because I could see that Leica would never make anything better, and because they will be with to "Till death do us part," I can modify them in any way that optimizes their fulfillment of their mission. Resale value is for whores. C'est Is Vie."