Ralph Gibson

Ralph Gibson is among the masters of photography. He’s one of my favourites because his work is so diverse – everything from technically perfect studio shots, enigmatic still lifes, street photography, erotica, abstraction, etc. The one book of his that I own, Deus Ex Machina, has about 800 photos. The range is amazing.

Gibson was in town a few years ago and I got to meet and take several pictures of him. But before we met I attended a talk he gave. He was cool, informal, chatty and answered questions in a friendly, easygoing manner. At one point his cell went off and he took the call, explaining to the caller that he was in Vancouver, in the middle of lecture, and couldn’t talk right then. Far from being an annoying distraction, it was a funny post-modernist moment. During the Q&A portion of the event I decided I needed a break and went outside for a smoke. Well, it was a beautiful summer evening and I lingered too long because the thing ended before I went back in. People were leaving.

Never thought I’d have the guts to ask one of the world’s great photographers if I could take his picture . . . well it’s not a question of guts exactly . . . but it’s something. In any case when I saw him leaving I did just that. When we did formally meet the next day I showed it to him and he said he thought it was very good and I have to agree.

I never did find out who the woman was but when I talked to Chris Cameron (another damn good photographer) he deduced that she must have been the model from his master class.

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