He studied insurance at Cairo University
and attended the Chartered Insurance Institute
in London. He worked for the Egyptian Reinsurance Company as a marine underwriter
. He was the accidental witness of a riff-raff between the company's marine hull insurance manager and the chief of the syndicate. Caught up in a delicate bureaucratic situation, Sonbol was told testifying about the incident meant the end of his career in insurance. As a result, he decided to pursue one of his passions -photography- and tried his luck at Al-Ahram
, where he soon started working as a freelancer
It only took a few months for him to become a full-time photographer at Al-Ahram
under the auspices of Antoun Albert.
Although achieving professional goals and popularity at Al-Ahram, at a certain point Sonbol saw the need of leaving the newspaper in order to be recruited by the American Embassy's as official photographer. This position was finally not materialized but still the American Embassy incorporated him to its computer department as graphic designer
and computer trainer for newcomers,
He managed to combine these roles with his work in the New Cairo Opera House
, where he had been taking pictures since it opened its doors in 1988. Eventually Sonbol resigned his place at the American Embassy and returned to Al-Ahram; this time to the Al-Ahram Weekly
He stayed six years as main photographer of Kalam-El-Nass. On his last year there, the Maraya-El-Nass magazine project
saw the light. This was an interior design magazine belonging to the same group as Kalam-El-Nass. The project's key artistic responsibles were to be writer Moguib Rushdi and himself, so he was fully transferred to the new magazine. Here too he managed to "shake the foundations of Egyptian interior photography with his use of natural light".
Currently Sonbol manages to combine his responsibilities as chief photographer in Al-Ahram Weekly 
and in the Cairo Opera House 
with other projects.
As a freelancer, he occasionally contributes to other publications -including Kalam-El-Nass-. He participates in photography campaigns and other job assignments too. He has also collaborated with important cultural centers such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
His work has been displayed in various exhibits 
worldwide and has been the subject of doctoratethesis
He has given seminars at AFCA (Académie Francophone Cairote des Arts)
and teaches photography at the Ahram Canadian University 
Through one of his most recent freelance projects, Sonbol tries to bring Western and Arabic cultures closer together in order to promote a better understanding and communication.
Technique and style
- One of Sonbol's trademarks is his use of natural available light; a technique he developed under the encouragement of Antoun Albert.
- An acute sense of timing is also characteristic of his images. This is especially evident in his ballet shots and The New York Times referred to it as "a particular agile eye" adding that "Even when Sonbol concentrates on stillness, he exemplifies Martha Graham's adage that a pause is not a pose but "an act of accomplishment" ". Sonbol developed his eye for dance under the supervision of Erminia Gambarelli Kamel, former prima ballerina and currently artistic director of the Cairo Opera House Ballet.
"Rare is the photographer who looks at a familiar art form and shows it in a new light. But Sherif Sonbol’s stunning and revelatory dance photographs [show] a particularly agile eye… apt to shoot from a catwalk above the stage or from the wings, frequently abstracting shapes into dynamic and explosive bursts of color." -Anna Kisselgoff
, New York Times
"An artist has reached the pinnacle of his profession when his work can be recognised without his signature being written…" -Mounir Kenaan, leading Egyptian painter 
- Opera 1988–1993, (Cairo Opera House 1993)
- Aida, (Cairo Opera House 1999)
- Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten : Nefertiti : Tutankhamen, (Bullfinch & Boston Museum for Fine Arts 1999, ISBN 0-8212-2620-7 & ISBN 978-0-8212-2620-9) Contributor.
- Swan Lake for Children, (Cairo Opera House, 2000)
- Mulid! Carnivals of Faith, (AUC, 2001, ISBN 977-424-519-9 & ISBN 978-977-424-519-0)
- Mamluk Art: The Splendor and Magic of the Sultans (Museum with No Frontiers & Transatlantic, 2001, ISBN 1-874044-37-6 & ISBN 977-270-667-9)
- The Pharaohs, (Bompiani Arte & Thames and Hudson, 2002, ISBN 88-7423-023-0) Main contributor.
- Der Turmbau Zu Babel – Ursprung und Vielfalt von Sprache und Schrift (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien & Skira, 2003, ISBN 3-85497-055-2 & ISBN 88-8491-534-1) Contributor.
- 40 Pyramids of Egypt and their neighbors, (Cyperus, 2005, ISBN 977-5052-17-3)
- 40 Pyramids of Egypt and their neighbors, Arabic version (Al Hayaa Al Masriya Al-Aama Lel Ketab, 2005, ISBN 977-419-690-2)
- Egyptian Palaces and Villas, (Abrams Inc & AUC, 2006, ISBN 0-8109-5538-5 & ISBN 978-0-8109-5538-7)
- The Churches of Egypt: From the Journey of the Holy Family to the Present Day, (AUC, 2007, ISBN 977-416-106-8 & ISBN 978-977-416-106-3). Second edition, AUC, 2012
- Arts of the City Victorious (Yale University, 2008, ISBN 978-0-300-13542-8 & ISBN 0-300-13542-4) Main contributor.
- Christianity and Monasticism in Wadi al-Natrun: Essays from the 2002 International Symposium of the Saint Mark Foundation and the Saint Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, Edited by Maged S.A. Mikhail & Mark Moussa, (AUC, 2009, ISBN 978-977-416-260-2) Cover image.
- Opera 1988–2008 (Cairo Opera House, 2009) 
- Al-Tahra Palace, A Gem in a Majestic Garden (CULTNAT / Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2009, ISBN 978-977-452-144-7)
- The Nile Cruise, an Illustrated Journey (AUC, 2010, ISBN 977-416-302-8 & ISBN 978-977-416-302-9)
- Wonders of the Horus Temple: The Sound and Light of Edfu (AUC, 2011, ISBN 977-638-900-7 & ISBN 978-977-638-900-7). Introduction by Zahi Hawass
- The History and Religious Heritage of Old Cairo: Its Fortress, Churches, Synagogue, and Mosque (AUC, 2013, ISBN 977-416-459-8 & ISBN 978-977-416-459-0)
- ^ a b Al-Ahram Weekly October 2003 Archived 2009-01-08 at the Wayback Machine, interview following a five-week exhibition of his work at the Lincoln Center in New York.
- ^ Cultnat on Antoun Albert Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine, small profile featured in the book "Nubia through two Eras".
- ^ At that time (early-mid '80s) the use of computers and word processors was not as widespread as it is nowadays.
- ^ An unsuccessful advertisement strategy resulted in Maraya-El-Nass having to close its doors a few years later.
- ^ Afaaf Abu Zaahr & Ghada Abu Zahr, editors of "Mirrors" and Kalam-El-Nass magazines
- ^ Besides his regular photojournalism assignments, he is in charge of the main photograph of the Pack of Cards section of the newspaper (usually providing the image or selecting other relevant photographs) and also occasionally contributing with articles.
- ^ "A Nubian Journey (Al-Ahram Weekly January–February 2010)" Archived 2011-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Text and graphic contribution to Al-Ahram Weekly: an original article on a usually very secluded event.
- ^ "Pack of Cards" Archived 2011-04-02 at the Wayback Machine subdivision of the "People" section of the newspaper. The subsection opens with a weekly image. When he doesn't contribute the image himself, he is in charge of selecting the image. Due to Al-Ahram Weekly's website organisation, in order to see the latest Pack of Cards (or past issues) navigate from here to current/past issues.
- ^ "The Boundless Frontier (Al-Ahram Weekly May 2000)" Archived 2010-11-08 at the Wayback Machine Text and photos by Sherif Sonbol on his work in Morocco for Museum With no Frontiers.
- ^ Cairo Opera House 10th anniversary exhibit review Archived 2009-08-06 at the Wayback Machine Al-Ahram Weekly, October 1998
- ^ a b Al Ahram Weekly July 2009 Archived 2009-06-28 at the Wayback Machine, Review on Sonbol's book "Cairo Opera House 1988–2008".
- ^ Bibliotheca Alexandrina "Ecclesiastical Spirituality" exhibit Archived 2008-12-29 at the Wayback Machine Al-Ahram Weekly review on his latest exhibit in Bibliotheca Alexandrina (December 2008)
- ^ a b c d New York Times October 2003, review and interview on occasion of Lincoln Center Exhibit.
- ^ Currently his work is on display, for example, in the Museum With No Frontiers exhibit "Mamluk Art: The Splendor of the Sultans"
- ^ 2012 Exhibit in Poland: article from "Nisf el Dunia" Archived 2012-12-18 at archive.today, in Arabic
- ^ 2012 Exhibit in Poland: article from "Ahram Online", in English
- ^ Eszter Dobay, The Hungarian Moholy-Nagy Academy of Arts. Thesis title: “On the portrayal of movement/action in photography”
- ^ Paula van Akkeren, Amsterdam. Thesis titles: “What is the role of photography in Egypt” and “The relation between photography and art”
- ^ Ahram Canadian University´s official website.
- ^ The project is moving slowly given the difficulty of finding proper sponsors.
- ^ a b Egypt Today February 2006, article on the history of Photography in Egypt.
- ^ Alrai Alaa Newspaper Archived 2010-01-02 at the Wayback Machine, Naguib Mahfouz on Sonbol's first exhibit at the Cairo Opera House, interview by Ashraf Sadek, (link in Arabic).
- ^ Featured in Sonbol's catalogues, this special message was originally delivered by Mounir Kenaan's wife, author Sanaa El-Beissy.
- ^ In 2001, Mounir Kenaan wrote: “A real artist is when you can recognize his work, without seeing his signature. Sonbol’s photos are like that. When I see a photo taken by Sherif Sonbol, I know immediately it’s his, without seeing his name. He surpassed the impossible. Sonbol, whose endless passion and near-obsession for learning, it is no wonder that he is now the “master’ of all photography masters in ballet – " Al Masry Al Youm English edition article "The Camera Dancer"
- ^ Sonbol, Sherif. "Sherif Sonbol Photography". www.sherifsonbol.com. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
- ^ Al Ahram Weekly October 1998 Archived 2012-10-18 at the Wayback Machine, article on "Aida" show at the Giza Pyramids. Sonbol's book was based on this unique production.
Last edited on 10 April 2020, at 20:13
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