An interview with Tom Gould

A few months back we got word of a video from one of our NYC friends. We checked it out and we literally couldn’t wait until it was over before
posting it here on HYB. It was a rare gem, one which fused nice photography with hardcore graffiti action without coming across staged or cheesy.
That video was Meyhem Lauren’s ‘Got the fever‘, directed by New Zealand born, New York based Tom Gould.

Soon after seeing the video we decided to get in touch with the man behind the lens to get a better idea of his background and how the video came
to be.

Interview by Iris Erlingsdottir
Photos by Tom Gould

First of all, for those who may not know a lot about you, how would you describe your work?

My work reflects what interests and inspires me within my immediate surroundings.

What interests you at the moment?

The streets, the subways and most importantly the people within these scenes. I’m interested in the culture that lives within these places and love
capturing the realness and feeling these places evoke.

You are now based in New York, what brought you over from New Zealand?

The culture. Growing up, New York has always been a huge influence, even though I was living on the other side of the world. Being interested in the
history and movements founded in New York, has always drawn me there. So I decided to head on over and document the city for myself.

What do you love most about the city?

The people. I have to say New York is the best city for eavesdropping. I love walking down the street and hearing the craziest shit that people have to
say, it makes me crack up. I find it inspiring, and I love listening to what people have to say even if it makes no sense at all.

What types of people are you interested in?

People that are real. People that do what they love. People that don’t give a fuck.

Are they your friends, or strangers? How do you approach them?

A mix of both. A lot of the time I will photograph my friends in various situations. But when I am taking photos on the street they are total strangers.
I approach people level headed. I talk to them and get a feel for their personality before taking their photo. Generally the conversations I have with people
on the street are better than the photo that comes from it.

Are those strangers happy to have you take their photo? Do they ever respond negatively?

Not all of them. That’s why I talk to them first and see what’s going on. A lot of people act negatively and aggressive but that just adds to the whole
experience. I do find the people in New York friendly, but it does come down to how you approach them. You have to try and find a way to let people trust
you with a camera, it’s always a hard thing to do.

What got you into photography, and in particular the documenting of graffiti and street culture?

I had older people around me that were artists and photographers, and they influenced me a great deal. I was taught the importance of documentation, and
from then on began to take photographs more seriously. As I was a kid that was interested in graffiti and the events that take place on the street I naturally
began to document these scenes and situations.

How do you think documenting lends itself to street culture? Do you feel it is important to represent this society?

Documentation to me is very important. Even if its not a great photograph, the fact that it is documented means a great deal. The world changes and evolves
so preserving the imagery, ideals and importantly the culture of a certain time is essential.

Do you feel that there might be some misinterpretations of the community? Does the document help people to realise that there are similarities
between cultures?

Yea for sure, I do think there are misinterpretations. And they way things are documented can portray people and scenes in different lights. I aim to try to and
document what I see as real and a true reflection of my subject.

What defines your style and inspires you the most?

My style is defined by what surrounds me, and how I personally view the scenes and situations I encounter. These scenes often involve people, so I would have
to say that people are my biggest inspiration.

You recently shot a video for Meyhem Lauren, how did you land it?

I was introduced to Meyhem when I first moved to New York, we had common interests and we both liked what each other where doing, so we decided to get
to work on the video.

Was this your first stab at video work? Should we be expecting more in the future?

I had made a couple of documentaries when I was younger, but had moved towards stills photography and hadn’t been doing anything with video in a minute.
But when this opportunity came up, I couldn’t turn it down as it was going to be too much fun. And yeah, I am currently working on a few collaborative
projects which I am looking forward to seeing evolve.

Did you encounter any problems while filming, especially in terms of its illicit content?

Everything went smoothly with the filming. There was a lot of footage recorded and a lot of situations that could have ended up badly. But all is good.

Were the writers included apprehensive about being filmed while painting?

Not apprehensive, just smart about being filmed. Everyone who was filmed was down, so we just made sure we did it the right way.

Did you have to be cautious to preserve their anonymity?


More superficially, what sort of equipment are you using?

I use a bunch of cameras, but lately I have been using a FM2 for most of my photography. I love film and I love the look it gives. But for my video work I
use a 5D Mark II.

Who would you cite as your main influences for your work?

There are so many people that influence me, and a lot of them are not just photographers. The list would go on and on. My main influence would be an
old friend of mine Harold Osborne. Hal was a mentor to me and taught me about photography, cameras, lighting and film and I owe him a great deal for
opening my eyes to the importance of documentation.

Lastly, what are you hoping to achieve with your career in the future?

I would love to be able to travel and to meet people from all over the world doing what I enjoy.