#FocusThursday - Ralph Gibson / by Ryan Henwood-White

"Ralph Gibson (born January 16, 1939) is an American art photographer best known for his photographic books. His images often incorporate fragments with erotic and mysterious undertones." - Wikipedia

Ralph Gibson is one of the photographers that initially inspired me to shoot nudes. I was drawn to his framing, the way he captured sexuality and humanity in a way that was often objectifying, not to dehumanise, but to create universality and mystery. Particularly when photos are placed in series, alongside one another, it creates a story, an arc, of feeling, of mood, without saying anything outright. For this reason, I love photography, and Gibson uses this possibility exquisitely.

In an interview with Bird In Flight he discussed the abstraction of black and white photography: "Reality exists in a 100% scale, 3 dimensions, and in colour. When you are taking black and white photographs, you reduce it to one dimension, reduce it in scale to an 11 by 14 inch print and you reduce it to 2 dimensions, flat surface. It is abstracted three steps away from reality.

In this abstraction, you get a lot of power. It’s more monumental, more epic. With color, you are only two steps away. It is more difficult to make a color photograph that is as good as a black and white photograph. It is much more complex, and I like the challenge."

In this way he is using the power of elimination to create images which hint at meaning, which may or may not have originally contained such meaning. By removing dimensions of life a photographer is able to contextualise otherwise meaningless objects into ones with gravity, hinting at what is beyond the frame. Even after Gibson has created an image with meaning to him, the way in which the art is perceived at large may be different entirely. Thus is the power of art.