The photography master and Larry Clark cohort explains the magic of the printed page
“I’ve always wanted to make a film on Ralph because I knew it would be a great excuse to a have private class,” says filmmaker David Luraschi of capturing the master photographer Ralph Gibson at work. “Each time I visit I’m hoping to steal his secrets, but I leave his studio with even more questions.”
“Ralph was nine months late on rent at the Chelsea Hotel before he put out his first book and established himself”
Known for his stark Leica-shot work, How to Make a Book unpicks Gibson’s unique talent for shaping the mise-en-page: the laying out of images within a print publication. Carefully juxtaposing unexpected images across double-page spreads, the resultant diptychs create something independent of their separate parts. Gibson began his career in the 1960s assisting influential photojournalist Dorothea Lange and documentarian Robert Frank, and published his first work, Somnambulist, in 1970, a release which launched his print-making career soon after securing Larry Clark’s seminal book, Tulsa.
“Each time I visit Ralph I’m hoping to steal his secrets, but I leave his studio with even more questions”
Luraschi worked in collaboration with Danilo Parra – the Chilean-American director, recognized for his music videos for A$AP Rocky and the Black Lips – and came to know Gibson and his work through his father. “There’s a picture that my dad took of Ralph sleeping in San Francisco in 1961 where you can tell there’s no sheets,” says Luraschi, known for his popular Instagram series of street snaps taken where all of the subjects are captured from behind. “Two of his Leicas were in the pawn shop, and he was nine months late on rent at the Chelsea Hotel before he put out his first book and established himself.”