Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/08/23

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Ralph Gibson again
From: Guy Bennett <>
Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 12:29:30 +0100
References: <v04011701b5c93ba09914@[]>

>Frankly speaking, however,  I am hard pressed to "appreciate" some of
>Gibson's shots which, to my mediocre eyes, appear products of inadvertent
>release of the shutter.  Or, he was just in a mood of feeling and hearing
>the travel of that cloth shutter membrane of his M6 at those
>restrospectively decisive moments...
>I am a great fan of Gibosn and really enjoy what he writes as well as what
>he shoots.


i too have a hard time appreciating some of gibson's shots (the same is
also true of hcb, brassai, kertesz, et al), though i must say the shots i
don't 'get' are few indeed compared to those that really thrill me.

it is interesting that you allude to the 'decisive moment' (if ironically)
when talking about his work, because he strikes me as the very opposite of
a 'decisive moment' photographer: so many of his images seem to be
thoughtfully composed that, if he did grab them on the fly, then i'm doubly

also fascinating to me (and once again contrary to the spirit of the
decisive moment imho) is his use of the book as a tool or vehicle for his
photography. (let us not forget that he came to fame as a result of his
'70s triology 'the somnambulist,' 'déjà vu,' and 'days at sea'.) on the
back cover of his 'deus ex machina' he says something like, 'my photography
shows how i think about the world; my books show how i think about my
photography.' it is well know that the images he produces are created
specifically to wind up in a book along with other related images to create
a composite whole which is greater than its individual photographic parts.
for this reason, i don't feel disappointed if i can't appreciate this or
that individual photo by r gibson, because the image in question invariably
fits into a larger work of art (the book) that needs to be considered on
its own esthetic merits, and cannot be judged a success or failure based on
the quality (or assumed lack thereof) of a given image or two.

like you, i am a big fan of both his photography and his writing, and am
always stimulated by his creative work. mark r., if you read this, could
you repeat where you found that article on r.g.

thanks in advance.


In reply to: Message from Guy Bennett <> (Re: [Leica] Ralph Gibson again)