gordon gahan

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For this review I chose a photographer who has played a major role in my life. He is a man I’ve never known but has always been a household name, he is a man who has inspired me to investigate the field of photography, he is a man who taught me that you can speak through a lens. Gordon Gahan and my mother were engaged to marry; she went with him on shoots and traveled the world. My mother attended his last shoot in the Virgin Islands where he passed away before her eyes in a helicopter accident in 1984. Despite having never met Gordon Gahan, I feel a connection to his work and an appreciation for it.

Gordon Gahan was a photographer for the Society and National Geographic as well as co-founded Prism Photography. Gahan is best known for his work in National Geographic. For this assignment I chose various photographs published throughout his short-lived career with National Geographic.

In my apartment in New York my mother has old film slides of all of Gahan’s unpublished work, unfortunately I was not able to get my hands on the unknown pieces but the one thing I can say about every single photo I have seen that Gahan has taken is that every photo captures the light perfectly. Every single object, despite perspective, focus, and frame has this indescribable lighting, it’s as if every object in his photographs is glowing.

The detail of Gahan’s work alone is fascinating. Every photograph is taken in another country, specifically positioned to show even the most well known architecture in a different perspective. Gahan’s work embodies what I am interested in: travel, history, and the beauty of the world around us. Every photograph is beautiful; every photograph is fine tuned to be the best it can be.

My mother always said that when Gahan was working the world around him did not exist, entirely his camera and his self. His goal in life, according to my mother, was to express the beauty of the world around us in the most truthful form possible. A book was published by Gahan about the voyages of Captain Cook, according to my mother this was the work that changed his life forever. Unfortunately I was unable to find any photographs from the book, but I plan on continuing to hunt so I can post them on this blog at somepoint.

I chose Gordon Gahan for personal reasons along with a true admiration for his work. As a whole National Geographic photography, to me, encompasses some of the more jaw dropping images I have ever seen before, I believe Gahan’s work backs up this claim.


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