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Capturing a perfect moment: The photography of Gurdal Bibo

After capturing the inhabitants of the grassy plains of the Serengeti, the residents of the chilly Scottish moors, and the urban jungle of New York City, photographer Gurdal Bibo is ready for his next subject: the balmy waters and historic architecture of Miami. Bibo, who evolved from art student at Istanbul Bigli University to professional Soho studio owner has taken him around the world, is one of the leading gold sponsors of The Real Deal’s South Florida Real Estate Showcase and Forum, a partnership that feels like a natural extension of his artistic and commercial journey.

“When I receive a photo from my clients hanging my artwork in their homes or offices it gives me joy,” says Bibo. “There is no greater compliment than someone paying for your art and putting it in their homes.”

Bibo’s work is evocative in its simplicity, which is a large part of why many realtors and interior decorators have been attracted to his photos. His early work focused on animal subjects, including a pair of highland cows he encountered in Scotland that he turned into two of his most enduring works, Twisty, featuring a bull with horns that curl away from its head in opposite directions, and Fluffy, a cow whose Farrah Fawcett hairdo exudes personality. The intimacy of these portraits comes from Bibo’s aesthetic sense as much as his choice of subject; as he says, “I like to separate my subject from the background as much as I can.” While the highland cow portraits evoke whimsy, his photographs of a pride of lions in Africa exude the power of these creatures. A one-eyed lioness caught Bibo’s attention, and the resulting images present an animal at once fierce and noble.

From Wilderness to Wall Street

The photographer’s connection with these animals goes beyond their utility as subjects. He shares the proceeds from another of his popular works, Kiyasa, which features the wise and craggy visage of an adult elephant, with the sanctuary in which he took the picture. As a WWF partner, Bibo is often tapped to take portraits of animals whose survival is on the line, a duty that he sees as a privilege.

This passion for wildlife is only a part of Bibo’s artistry. After moving to New York City in 2011, he turned his unique eye to the inhabitants and structures of that urban landscape, producing work that reflected his experience of the city as a sidewalk vendor always looking up at skyscrapers. New York in Bibo’s work is a solitary place, full of lone walkers and skyscrapers peeking out from fogbanks, each image rich with the details that make the city such a captivating photographic theme. “I do not like crowded backgrounds,” says Bibo. “If there is a heavy fog, that is my favorite time to shoot.” Bibo’s portfolio includes some enduring New York City images, including Jane vs Goliath, in which a lone woman is dwarfed by the Brooklyn Bridge’s Gothic archways half-clothed in mist.

An Architectural Affinity

For four years, Bibo worked for a real estate company, and his appreciation for architecture only becomes more striking the larger the format of a given print. While his twin subjects, wild animals and proud buildings, may seem disparate, his singular approach unifies his oeuvre to create work that is not only evocative but satisfying to look at. These qualities have been crucial to his success as a seller of his work: he began with a booth on the sidewalk, and, thanks to his photographs finding their way into the homes and offices of New Yorkers, has opened a successful studio where his work is available for viewing and purchase.

His success hasn’t changed Bibo’s approach to photography.

“I don’t shoot these photographs for a particular person or a place,” he says. “I see and I shoot, no time to think.”

While he still plans photographic outings to capture buildings and landscapes, in his heart, Bibo knows that his best images come from being in the right place at the right time. With regards to his plans to photograph Miami while he’s in the area for The Real Deal Showcase, he says he’s planning to spend some time on the city’s many piers. “All I need is to get lucky during the sunrise or the sunset with the clouds.” 

Bibo hopes to one day attend Art Basel, Miami’s premier art show. “I love the energy in Miami and the appreciation of art,” says Bibo, for whom the city is just the latest in a lifelong journey around the world. “I am always trying to come up with something different than other photographers.”