Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Written by: Jevon Armstrong
Rich Gibbs Photography, based out of the UK, around Nottinghamshire/ Yorkshire / Derbyshire, started as a hobby when Rich was five and received a 35mm compact camera as a gift and never stopped using them. A couple of years ago, Rich was on a cruise with his family, and they kept telling him that he was taking better photos with his phone than the professional photographers. At the end of the trip, he stopped off on his way home and bought his first DSLR. Upon beginning this journey, Rich would point his camera at an impressive burned out room, and now he is booking studios and working with makeup artists. While he enjoys this, he still finds a way to get out to find those burned out and abandoned buildings but can put an equally exciting person in there.
"Music is a huge thing for me. I listen to it at every opportunity, and it helps cut the background noise of the world." Rich uses music, as we do here at Myssfit, to find that creative space. He also has a great support system of friends and "my ever-patient and most wonderful wife, Lisa" are there to kick ideas around with him. Rich admits, "She gets the raw end of the deal when she has to put up with my hour-long stream of excitement over a shot I've just imagined. I couldn't do any of this without her love and support." While also working with some other beautiful people, which helps drive Rich to be even more creative to ensure that he doesn't let anyone down. "I work a lot with a makeup artist called Clare (@claresfx - check her out!), and she does incredible work all the time, as well as being the nicest person. She's enabled me to get out and think a little bigger than just standard portraits. And then there are the friends that have the patience to stand in front of my lens regularly - Katy, Gemma, Leah, Connie... so many I can't name them all. The last images I finished were made with Courtney, who shares my passion for the weird and is happy to indulge that bizarre part of my brain that comes up with the ideas. I'm just always grateful to have people around me who are excited by what we achieve together and have the patience to wait and see what comes out next."
Advice comes in all shapes and sizes and is often found within our realm. The best advice Rich had received came from another photographer. "Tom Tranter that posted up a Q&A on his Instagram story when asked how he plucks up the courage to ask people to work with him. His answer was, "It's never not awkward," and I've carried that with me since. That acceptance that this path means walking outside of my comfort zone has freed me to crack on and create art that I'm proud of." Narrowing down one's favorite piece of art can be difficult, each piece meaning something different. "That's like asking me which one of my children I love most! I do have portraits that I've made that are among the ones I go back to repeatedly as my favorites, but I also have an emotional connection to some of the images I make. Sometimes I'll love an image because I remember why they're laughing or something we talked about beforehand. It's a strange disconnect I have to practice because others can only look at my pictures as contextless art, but to me, they are memories."
Having work published in any way is exciting, especially for someone new to the field. "I also love it when I send someone photos, and they then use them as their profile picture on social media. To me, that's special because our profile pic is how we choose to be seen first; it's how we want the world to see us. To be the person who captured someone in a way they are not just proud to show off but actually chooses to represent them validates my work." Loving what you do is vital and comes back to create more and more energy to put back into the craft. "My best images are the ones where I felt challenged and energized, either by the expected result, the adventure, the people I'm working with... it sounds strange, but I can feel a successful image before I see it." This is excellent advice, but Rich continues to give us these insightful tidbits for those artists starting. "Don't. Stop. Ever... even when it's not working out, even when it feels like creativity has packed its bags and gone away. Especially then. Like all creatives, I get those moments where something I planned isn't working how I hoped. Or I make a portrait and get it into the edit and suddenly hate how I lit it. Or I'm on location, and the light just will not behave. You're not going to create a masterpiece every time- but keep going anyway, and you'll get there. Instagram is the best place to find me (@richgibbsphotography) or my website. I specialize in portraits that are not the norm... so if anyone has a crazy idea or wants their picture taken under a waterfall, get in touch!"
A dream goal for Rich would be to "shoot a series of serene portraits throughout Chernobyl. The buildings at Pripyat are off-limits at the moment but maybe someday! In terms of more realistic goals, I'm aiming to put a book of portraits out in the next few months to raise money for a domestic violence charity and raise the awareness level of how women are treated as a whole. As a group (photographers, models, MUA's), we need to do our utmost to protect the well-being of those we work with. That starts with understanding that while our own particular behavior may not be the problem, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. We should always promote safe working and go above and beyond in protecting others. I'm fortunate enough not to have first-hand experience of this - but too many people I care about do. I'm looking to promote holding ourselves and our peers to a much higher standard, and hopefully, this will be, in some small way, a start."
"Just a shout out to my wonderful family - Lisa and my two boys Harry & James - I'm incredibly blessed to have them, and they make me feel like the luckiest man in the world."