Ralph Gibson was born in Los Angeles, California in 1939. He served as a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy from 1956 to 1960. After his service he studied painting and photography at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1960-61. In 1961-1962, he worked as a printing assistant to photographer Dorothea Lange. It was Lange who gave him the most important advice of his career – to find his “departure point.” In 1963 he moved back to Los Angeles. Between 1967 and 1969, Gibson assisted Robert Frank on the film, Me and My Brother. Starting with The Strip (Los Angeles, 1966), he began to publish his work in book form, though the reception of his first volumes was poor. His photographs of this early period were in a documentary style influenced by Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson and William Klein, and in fact, Bruce Davidson and Mary Ellen Mark presented him to Magnum Photos for membership consideration.