New York-based Kiwi, Tom Gould, is a photographer who has spent the last couple of years shooting images that capture the essence of the streets and sub-cultures of his adopted home. With sincerity and humanity to his images that escapes many aspiring young photographers, Tom has tapped into a world that exists at a very local level, but one which resonates globally. Ahead of his collaborative exhibition, Two Of A Kind, with Anna Delany, opening April 21 at the Klughaus Gallery in NY, we had a chance to talk to Tom about his work, New York, and what continues to inspire him. And if you haven’t already viewed the exhibition teaser for Two Of A Kind, check it out beneath the interview.
Jack Smylie: Hey Tom, what sparked your interest in photography as a medium?
Tom Gould: It came from being a kid that was hanging out on the train tracks and generally in places where I wasn’t meant to be. I was documenting my friends and the mischief we were creating, and from there it grew into documenting everything within my immediate surroundings and aspects of life that caught my interest.
Are you/have you been involved in any other artistic pursuits aside from photography?
I like to draw, I love cartoons and I love painting, but I’m most comfortable with a camera around my neck.
You’re from New Zealand – why the move to New York?
From a very young age I was introduced to the movements and cultures that were birthed in New York. Throughout my teens I always drew inspiration from the imagery and sounds that were coming from New York, so I felt it was only right that I flew the 9,000 miles and got here to see and to document the city for myself.
What in particular has acted as an eye-opener since you relocated to the States?
The people. The different cultures, languages and ways of life fascinate me. New Zealand is also a very diverse place, but since moving to New York I have been exposed to so many amazing people and cultures that makes me appreciate my everyday encounters even more.
You’ve taken your skills behind the lens a step further to include moving images – directing a number of music videos for the likes of Action Bronson, Meyhem Lauren and David Dallas. Was that something you’ve always aspired towards?
I have always been interested in film and moving image, but I had chosen to focus on capturing stills for the past few years prior to moving to New York. Once I moved here, I met Meyhem Lauren and we decided to make the video for ‘Got The Fever’. That was my first music video and it got a great response, so from there I just kept it going.
Growing up in NZ, I had this kind of detached fascination with aspects of the hip hop culture that was finding its way over here from the US, especially the more underground stuff. I suspect you had the same experience. How did you find it translated when you got to NY and immersed yourself in that culture?
Definitely. As a kid I was fascinated with all things Hip Hop. Once I moved to New York my appreciation grew even more. Being around people you have grown up admiring and that have given you inspiration over the years is always a good feeling.
Aside from hip hop, where do you look for inspiration?
People and the streets are where I find my main inspirations. Just keeping my eyes and ears open to every situation is my key to staying inspired.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming exhibition “Two Of A Kind” at Klughaus?
‘Two Of A Kind’ is an exhibition of 35mm black and white photographs depicting the streets of New York City, taken by myself and Anna Delany. The exhibition is based around the theme of gambling with luck. Whenever shooting on the streets you never know whom you are going to meet, what’s going to happen, or what kind of memories you will take away. The exhibition depicts some of these memorable encounters from the New York streets.
In association with this theme, the exhibition will also be including casino style Blackjack tournaments at the opening reception, for a chance to win signed prints, custom playing cards and other prizes.
The exhibition is a double-header with fellow Kiwi, Anna Delany. Is this something the two of you have had planned for a while?
I met Anna in New York in 2009. Since meeting her, she has become a great inspiration to myself as a photographer. We both have very similar styles of photography, so a joint show was something I had always wanted to do.
What are your goals/plans for the year following the exhibition?
Just to keep taking pictures, finding inspiration and gambling.