“It’s Not About Being A Fan”The photographer and filmmaker went from snapping graffiti in Auckland to globetrotting with rap star Action Bronson. Tom Gould about his passion for tracking life through a lens
When Tom Gould first directed his camera at Auckland’s vibrant graffiti art scene, he had no idea where his photographic eye would take him. First it was New York City, then into the service of charismatic rapper and food enthusiast Action Bronson. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime gig that has seen Gould travel through Australasia, Europe and across the US, documenting the rapper’s every move. The whirlwind ride doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. On some rare downtime, Gould spoke to The Red Bulletin about his passion for tracking life through a lens.
THE RED BULLETIN: What was it that first inspired you to pick up a camera?
TOM GOULD: It was my old next-door neighbour, who was a photographer. The biggest thing he taught me was nothing lasts forever, and the only way you can preserve anything is through documentation. That always stuck with me as a powerful thing. If you want something to last, the most amazing tool we have is the camera.
You first visited New York when you were 21 years old, fresh from studying. What took you there?
I imagined what New York would be like, all conjured up through TV and music. I was a visually minded kid who was into graffiti and hip-hop, and New York is the home for all of that. It was always my plan to get here.
When did you first connect with Action Bronson?
It was when I first came here in 2009. I had friends in Action’s graffiti crew, Smart Crew, and we’d hang out at his father’s restaurant in Queens. He was just starting to make music and I ended up doing visuals for him. When I came back to New York at the start of last year with a Green Card, his career was going crazy. He was like, ‘Yo, I want you to be my photographer and come on the road with me.’ The first stop was Hawaii and then it was back to New Zealand. I left Auckland for about a week, and then I was back home. My mum said, ‘What the hell are you doing back?’
Is your easy-going Kiwi demeanour part of what allows you to capture material behind the scenes?
Yeah. It’s about knowing how to move and not get in the way – you’re there to document, not to be a fan. The main thing is to be like-minded, patient and able
to adapt to any situation.
Now you have a Green Card, what’s your plan?
I’m always looking for the next project. I plan to drop more music videos; release a short documentary. I want to get into narrative-driven short films. It’s all about staying busy, man, and taking every opportunity that comes your way.
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