YWYWMAGAZINE

YOU ARE WHAT YOU WEAR

David Gibson: unobtrusive and obsessed

How old are you?
62

Where are you from?
Ilford, Essex, which is fairly close to London.

Do you remember the first picture you ever took?
Not really. I had a Kodak Instamatic camera — with flashbulbs — as a child.

How and when did you start shooting professionally?
I was taking photographs in the 1970s — holiday snaps really — but in the late 1980s my photography suddenly got more serious. While studying photography I discovered Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliott Erwitt among others. That was the start but I was never drawn to photography as a profession, it was initially a hobby — it still is in many ways — but I did first start to seek photography work in 1994. I was doing care work for several years, on and off but I did eventually make the jump.

How do you approach your subjects in street photography?
I never interact with the people I photograph on the streets, my style is unobtrusive, a more fly on-the-wall approach. But my ‘subjects,’ well, I just take ‘my’ photographs, what catches my eye. Some of my photos lean towards abstract.

Is there any way to get out of a creative rut? What inspires you to keep going?
I’ve been taking photographs for thirty years. It’s a challenge but I keep at it. Inspiration is the key and I am still learning. There are always a few photographers, past and present, who I can bounce off. Their work particularly in books — when carefully done — feeds me, gives me hope.

Which photographer or artist do you admire the most?
It’s predictable to reel off a list of photographers, even artists but often it’s the ones who do it right to the end of their lives. Those that rage against the dying of the light, Lucian Freud, Picasso. I love the idea of late great work.

What is something you wish you knew more about?
With photography I could say technical stuff but I’ve survived so far. Better grammar is more important to me now.

Favorite travel destination?
The places that I’ve not yet been too, especially cities such as Havana, Kyoto, Buenos Aires.

The best movie you ever saw and why?
There is not one specific film that I can list. But I like mood created by the cinematography and music. ‘The Revenant’ is a good example, you feel the landscape and the struggle to survive.

One thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
It would be better to surprise myself. But writing half songs on the guitar, the true surprise would be if they were any good.

Your advice to someone who is reading this and wants to be a photographer?
To reach the highest level requires obsession, some people do it quietly, others not. It is no coincidence that the truly great photographers, those that really make a mark are naturally obsessed.

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