Gibbs lived the first years of his life in Dorset and Somerset, and then in 1880 he married Anne in South Stoneham. By 1881 the couple had settled at Lower Belle Vue Terrace,(Bellevue Terrace) Bevois Town, Southampton; Ernest was listed as a Photographer and Anne as Photographer's Wife. Gibbs was included in the list of Southampton photographers in the 1883 Foster and Roud directory.
Gibbs was a photographer in Southampton until around 1885, when he and his family moved to Reading for a short time. After 1890 Gibbs settled in the Croyden area, where he lived and worked as a photographer before retiring to Essex in the 1930s.
The 1901 census recorded Gibbs' 3 eldest daughters as Photographer's Assistants. Eldest daughter Elsie was still working as his assistant in 1911.