Photographer Ralph Gibson is one of the most important photographers of the last century and, in this documentary, he discusses both his life and his work. An independent iconoclast, Gibson went from serving in the Navy to working as an assistant to Dorothea Lange to eventually publishing his own very influential books of photographs. Gibson’s work is fascinating, sensuous, and frequently surreal and helped to change the public perception about whether or not photography can also be art.
Here’s just a few examples of Gibson’s work:
In the documentary Ralph Gibson: Photographer/Book Artist, Gibson tells his own story of how he became both a photographer and a publisher. It’s interesting to listen to him as he explains how he first came to realize that how a picture is placed on a page (especially when compared to the placement of the picture on the facing page) can make as much of an artistic statement as the pictures themselves. The documentary also features interviews with several of Gibson’s contemporaries and also with critics who attempt to analyze what makes Gibson’s work so effective.
The only problem with this documentary is that it’s too short. It’s only 30 minutes long so sometimes, like when Gibson is talking about his childhood and his time in the Navy, it feels rushed. The best thing about the documentary though is that it features many of Gibson’s photographs and also Gibson himself. Listening to Gibson talk will make you want to pick up a real camera and start capturing the world around you.
This documentary is on Prime and if you’re an artist looking for inspiration, I recommend it.