v2.3 Paula Rae Gibson w/ Lyrics

I’ve never been much for academic detachment when it comes to . . . anything. Maybe that’s why Paula Rae Gibson’s work grabs me. Her photographs bear traces of unrepentant attachment: scratches, scrapes, stains, abrasions, frictions, erosions, wear and tear. It’s as if the photographer were trying to get back in, knowing it’s only a photograph, but resolved, nevertheless, on the impossible.

And why not? “Impossible” seems as good a synonym as any for “love,” and there’s a love song at the heart of this series. Gibson, a jazz singer as well as a photographer, pairs her images with lyrics from her own music. Naturally, we might experience these images as a soundtrack to one person’s love life. But there’s something else here too. I hear it in phrases like “woman I want to be, woman I’ve got to be”—a mantra, a chant, a prayer, a yearning, an incantation . . . a rallying cry.

Paula Rae Gibson

Heart on the Hook © Paula Rae Gibson

the sound of your voice

penetrates, black

and blue. i

can’t                                                  stand i can’t

breath i cant bear to

live without

you,                     the echo

If © Paula Rae Gibson


never told

me, you never conveyed

the words

. . .                                                       you never made me


safe. how do you think

it makes


The Faith & the Fears [Factory of Fear] © Paula Rae Gibson

tables of whispers, elbows

meeting as she

enters, accused of being

too much herself, of not giving

a damn about

any                                                                                                                                                       body


and not being a part

of their factory

of fear, guy at the end

over by the drink,

blew her mind                                                 . . .

she wanted,

she disappeared.

Rather Be Weak in Your Arms © Paula Rae Gibson

you go

on and on about

power, about tower                                             ing over

the rest, i need

fresh                                                                                        air to caress me

Disappearing © Paula Rae Gibson

run thru

me, rush thru veins,

woman        i

want to be

when i think of him . . . let all

my passion be


woman i want to be

woman I’ve got

to be when

In this short film, Like I Love, Gibson interviews a group of women in Paris who share their own lyrical insights about love.

Follow Gibson on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

And be sure to check out Gibson’s beautiful monograph, Rae: A Pictorial Love Song, available through Eyemazing Editions!