Photographer similar to Ralph Gibson

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Dave Krueger, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Can anyone recommend any photographers whose technical style is similar to Ralph Gibson? I'm mainly looking for the stark grainy black and white 35mm style that he's known for but not necessarily limited to a particular subject matter. In fact, I would really like to view that technical style as applied to studio as well as location work.

    If anyone can suggest a name or two, I will search the web for examples of their work. I've developed a fascination for that style of camera and darkroom technique and now don't seem to be able to get enough of it.

    Thanks!

    -Dave
     
  2. foto-r3

    foto-r3 Member

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    Someone who cites Ralph Gibson as a major influence is Vlastimil Kula, from the Czech Republic, but be forewarned, his work straddles the fine line between erotic art and pornography.
     
  3. Tony D

    Tony D Member

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  4. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Ah-ha! Excellent! Thanks. Graham really has that look about his work. Kula seems to have the camera technique but doesn't seem to impart the same gritty at the print level, although I'm not sure how much of that is likely to come through in a low res jpg file.

    Thanks for both suggestions!

    -Dave
     
  5. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Wow, I really dislike his stuff.
     
  6. Paul B

    Paul B Subscriber

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    Hello. You might take a look at the work of Daido Moriyama. It certainly is stark, grainy, black and white and was taken with a small format camera. But very different, to my eye, from Ralph Gibson's.
     
  7. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Great! You're right about different, but still a variation on the grainy look. It's odd how I can see a photograph in someone else's portfolio that I would have tossed if I had taken it myself. It's not that the picture doesn't measure up, it's more like my eye isn't refined enough to spot a raw print with potential for being a good image. Also, I noticed that pictures viewed in a grouping can be more appealing than they are by themselves.

    When I look at other people's work, I am almost always looking at a group of their work all at one time, whereas with my own work, I evaluate each image in isolation. I'm rambling, but it makes me wonder if I'm missing something about the psychology of viewing prints that I, as an artist, should know.
     
  8. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    Roger Deckker. He's big right now in fashion. Being mimicked a lot, understandably, since he's doing really creative work.
     
  9. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Thanks. You have some exceptional work as well. Enjoyed his and yours.
     
  10. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Gibson's technical style is based on heavy overexposure and printing from the verrrry narrow range of tones in that nearly-black neg. It's easy to think he's just being soppy, but he carries around a body with chrome film & he nails the exposures on those so he's methodical in his madness. I actually haven't seen anyone else pull it off in quite the same way -- not even Callahan or Brandt.
     
  11. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Yes, I've done some research on that and have managed to achieve a very similar look that I want to combine with my own style and subject matter. I like the moody gritty look.
     
  12. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Well good luck -- I personally think that the shooters cited so far are not even close. One or two have photos that are evocative of some Gibson pics, particularly from around the "Quadrants" period, but that could almost be coincidence.

    Get a hold of "Refractions" if you haven't -- Gibson also published a description of his 1970's methods in the Lustrum "Darkroom" books (hard to find, but some libraries have them).

    The Gibson printing technique is currently pretty-well outside the range of digital, btw -- digital cameras block up the highlights. Scanning from over-dense negatives and getting an expanding range of tones is beyond the density-precision of most (if not all) scanners. You can do some with controlled lighting in the studio, but you'll still not get the reflected contrast into those sorts of ranges. So far, B&W film remains the way to go if that look is your desire.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 18, 2007
  13. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Nonetheless, I'll take all the references I can get and enjoy the pictures that come closest to what I'm looking for.

    Thanks. I'll see if I can't find those.

    I don't do digital and rarely give much thought to how it differs from film.
     
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  15. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    Oh, another one is Mario Giacomelli. Moody and gritty, w/o the glamor and cleanliness of Gibson's subject matters.
     
  16. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Hmmm... I don't know if it's a close match to Gibson, but I like Graham's work perhaps the best of all the links so far.

    Just had a look at your site. Exceptional work (especially the Miscellaneous page).
     
  17. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    Gritty? Dense? There is nobody else but John Max:

    http://www.netspaceproject.com/john-max/index.html

    He makes Velvia photographers feel sorry they hurt their eyes on his work. And he's also brilliant.

    Not sure if you'll find he looks like Gibson, though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2007
  18. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Well, I like the pictures, but there's never enough and now I'm getting a bad itch to see real prints instead of internet browsing.

    I'm visiting New York next month. Maybe I'll find some good galleries or photography museums to visit...
     
  19. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    What do you dislike about it? I've found myself going back to his site repeatedly.
     
  20. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    You might have a hard time: John Max is sadly one of the fallen genius type. He was very active in the 60s-70s, but in the years following his first publications and major exhibits, something must have happened with his personal life because he gradually withdrew from the public view.

    I'm sure there must be some NY dealer somewhere with his prints, and if you find anything over there, I would really love a little report! Even in Canada, where he worked for most of his life, he's pretty much unknown outside of artistic/academic circles. There has been no recent publications of his work since the early 80s. Some exhibition catalogues, but no proper reprints of his books. It's a shame.

    It's the Velvet Underground syndrome: only 10 people saw his work, but the 10 were all photographers, and his influence is actually bigger than his popularity. He was buddy with Robert Frank, Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa, Andy Warhol, and plenty of other people.
     
  21. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    I'm surprised no one mentioned Bill Brandt. He is a one of Gibson's acknowledged influences.
     
  22. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    You just weren't reading closely :smile:
     
  23. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Oops. Guess I missed the first page. But glad to see we are in violent agreement.

    .... else pull it off in quite the same way -- not even Callahan or Brandt.
     
  24. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    haha! I glossed over it too, so I'm glad someone highlighted it. So I've been browsing Brandt pictures this morning. :smile:

    I'm getting what I want here. I realize now that people who know more about Gibson technique probably thought I was specifically looking for work that used very nearly the same style. In reality, my interest is ore broad, aiming for work that has the same basic high contrast, grainy, uncomplicated composition.

    It's now been a month or two since I went through the Gibson book, but I think another aspect of his style is to photograph his subject so as to create a speculation, on the part of the viewer, about what's happening outside the frame. I really like that, but would probably find it very difficult to do well, even occasionally.
     
  25. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Dave, I think I have the book detailing Gibson's technique on my shelf. If it hasn't already been packed for the move I'll grab it and do a little write up if you're interested.
     
  26. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    That would be great! I've heard bits and pieces from reading the forums. I understand he uses Tri-X at less than box speed, and develops in Rodinal. I have experimented with that technique using HP5 and was astonished at the results printed using a #5 filter. The grain and stark contrast was very similar to what I saw in "Deus ex Machina", although the reproduction in the book may be different from a real Gibson print. In any case, I plan to continue experimenting along those lines, which is quite a switch for me since I have always considered grain the enemy.