Charles Gibson spent the whole of last summer taking fisheye photos of his friends and their drunken nights in L.A that make us want to pack up and move out west (you can see them all here.) Now Charles has moved to New York he’s made the switch to 35mm and continued to capture the night-time scenes that we all see and tend to forget until they’re pasted on to facebook in shitty digital format. Luckily for his friends, and for us, Charles manages to craft these pictures in to more than a cobbled together recollection of the night before, and produces work that puts you right in to his shoes and the moment in which the photo was taken. He also has really witty names for all his photos that make us laugh – like the photo of a fixed gear rider in New York entitled, ‘You Obviously Think You’re Better Than Me.’ We asked Charles some questions about his photos:
Well, everyone takes photos, and there are a few reasons why. I trace the reason why I shoot back to the most popular one, documenting your milestones. I’ve been thinking a lot about when people shoot their vacations, holidays and ‘important events’ such as weddings and birthdays, whether simply because “that’s what you do at those things” or to document important moments in ones life. I think about scenes like graduations and how they might be too intense to really appreciate in the moment, or might be better reflected upon years later, when it’s thought of in it’s place in life. That’s what I kind of started out doing when I bought a disposable last May during my last week living in Philadelphia, before graduating University and moving to Los Angeles. I just wanted to save some memories in what I knew would be one of the most carefree periods of my life. From there, I really liked the photos, and so did other people, so when I was given a LOMO Fisheye from my friends Jess and Brad, I decided to shoot my entire summer in LA.
‘It’s been snowballing since then, and now that I live in New York City, spending time with some friends who happen to be photographers going through the “20 something” process, I’ve been inspired to work more seriously on the technical aspects of my photos. I shoot things now because they catch my eye, and I do my best to photograph them in an expressive manner, so the reason WHY they caught my eye comes across. And on a more general level, I’m documenting my life, and the weird and pretty shit that happens on a daily basis wherever I am. Now I don’t leave my neighborhood without a camera, and like to focus, at this moment, on the awkward pull between adulthood and childhood that almost everyone I know is dealing with.’
It depends on the camera, but I guess ideally my approach is to very quietly and quickly get the camera ready, so the subject, usually a person or an animal, doesn’t stop naturally doing what it’s doing. It sucks not getting it ready quickly enough, because sometimes you miss stuff and then forget you ever even saw it. I very rarely direct any of the scenes, so I just let my instincts frame it and I shoot it quickly, which I think is good for me because sometimes when I think too much about it, it isn’t a good thing.
Which is better for you, day or night?
I’m constrained to shooting better at night because I haven’t really mastered how a photographer connects with their subject on a personal level in broad daylight. Sometimes my day pictures turn out forced, or I take a lot of ‘back of the head’ shots of people I don’t know, because I’m too nervous to approach some people for fear of them getting angry and suspicious. When you are approached by someone in a big city asking to take your picture, you’re first reaction is to worry about what it’s REALLY for. For example, I was trying to take a picture of one of my roommates really hung over last Saturday morning, and when I snuck out of my room with my camera and aimed it at him quietly, he turned and made a big “Say Cheese” smile, kind of ruining the photo.
‘At night, the camera is less noticeable, and usually people care less, or maybe feel less vulnerable, due to a number of reasons. If you’re at a bar or a party, people loosen up and the flashes make less ‘noise’ so to speak, whether it’s a friend or a stranger. I enjoy the nighttime more anyway, because that’s usually when things get weird, but I have been trying to strike a balance lately. The other day I was working at a fashion shoot on the top of the Ganesvoort Hotel, which has a bar, and heard someone peek their head in and say, “Oh damn, this place looks COMPLETELY different in the day.” It reeked of booze and sweat and everyone said similar things about it throughout the day. It’s the same with photos from the night, seeing them in the day really gives you a different perspective on the photo, and the memory, which is sometimes lost in the haziness of the night.’
photos Charles Gibson.