STREET with David Gibson

Last week’s meeting – STREET with David Gibson


David started his talk off with a quote: “It’s a mess, aint it Sheriff? If it aint it’ll do till a mess gets here.” Cormac McCarthy, ‘No country for old man’. David said that this sums up his photography – a mess. He added that his photography is doubled hatted – a mix of abstract and realism.

Born in Ilford he said photography was therefore his destiny, echoing Habip’s ‘geography is destiny’ of the week before. From 1990 he spent his first 13-14 years of photography shooting black and white with a Nikon FM2 camera. David began his presentation with abstract black and white images of people adding that he was influenced by the work of Mario Giacomelli the Italian photojournalist. He said his work was also influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Marc Riboud and David Hurn.

His likes the graphical nature that high contrast black and white photography enhances. At times he uses backgrounds or landmarks as his starting point for a composition, a large plastic dinosaur at the end of Brighton pier was one example of this. He looks for textures such as concrete, brick walls, gravel which work very well in black and white and also uses the graphic shaped from shadows. Looking down on a subject is a regular viewpoint of his.

Shape is a big draw for him, he is drawn to the graphic shape of arrows on the road, zebra crossings too, as well as people wearing hats, or dogs in mid-air. Photographing people from behind he finds more interesting than straight on as it leaves more for your imagination. He tends to avoid shots with eye-contact.

The second part of his presentation was in colour and somewhat different in style. He said that at times in street photography you have to be a like a child in order to see things differently. This was demonstrated with his interest in people who are having difficulties with their clothing, and he showed some shots of ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ in the street. Also he finds people caught on one leg very interesting and had numerous shots of people walking, appearing to have only one leg.

David said that when he starts a street photography session he needs a period of warming up before he feels as though he has reached the stage where he is ‘in the zone’ – all hyped up and firing on all cylinders.

He then moved on to his colour abstracts. His technique is to shoot out of focus, use a small vertical jerk of movement and a slow shutter speed – an eighth of a second is his sweet spot. He had excellent shots of the red-robed Extinction Rebellion demonstrators, white helmeted Marines marching at Remembrance Day, a person passing by with a colourful umbrella, woman wearing traditional dress in Vietnam and other examples.

He ended his talk as he began with a quote, this time it was William Klein “Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even it is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.”

Excellent advice to finish an excellent presentation.

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