Richard Gibson brings a gritty realism to his photography that stems from the eight years he spent as a© Richard Gibson staff photographer for the Virgin Island Daily News in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Gibson returned to St. Thomas last August, as he does annually, to fish for and take pictures of blue marlin because he says “it is the only place to be in the world during the August full moon phase.” He will spend almost $1,000 per day to fish because “this is what you have to do to get good photos.” He approaches photography, fishing, and conservation in a pragmatic manner and that has kept him in the business of freelance photography for 20 years.
Gibson has produced more than 100 major magazine covers and thousands of inside pictures. Only in the last few years has he switched to digital photography. “Everything about this sport is high dollar,” he said. “But offshore fishing is in my blood. [With the equipment] salt water always wins and one big wave [can be an] expensive mistake.” Likewise, he takes pride in the fact that he does not use the auto-focus feature on his digital camera even though he says his eyes aren’t getting any better. Gibson counts artist Guy Harvey among his close friends in the marine art community.
© Richard GibsonIn fact, he was the managing editor at Tournament Digest who put one of Harvey’s drawings on the cover. The first time in print. But Gibson conceded that, “photography does not garner the same respect [as a] Guy Harvey watercolor.” Although he said his photography has taken him “everywhere that billfish swim,” including Costa Rica, Venezuela and the Bahamas, it was his involvement in sport fishing tournaments, not his photography, which led him to a conservationist attitude. Gibson says he remembers vividly when the Miami Billfish Tournament was an “all kill” event, but he has not seen a dead fish on the docks of St. Thomas in more than a decade. “Tournament fishing is alive and well,” he said, due to conservation. Gibson got into the tournament business in Venezuela and ran the Venezuela International Grand Slam Billfish Tournament for seven years until Hugo Chavez came to power as president. It was there that some of the first lessons in conservation were taught, but not necessarily retained.
“[Capt.] Ronnie Hamlin pioneered circle hooks in Costa Rica. He came to Venezuela to give a talk about circle hooks and everybody blew him off. I’ve seen what J hooks can do, but I’ve never seen that with circle hooks,” Gibson said. “[Conservation is important because] when my son grows up I hope he can see some of this stuff.”© Richard Gibson
Whether in fishing, photography or the business side of tournament sport fishing, he concluded, “I do not intend to slow down.”
For more information about Gibson and his art, visit www.hiseasphotography.com