Shapes and Textures
Photographs by Andrew Gold
Interview via email, July 2015
How did you find photography, what caused you to pick up a camera?
For me, there really wasn't anything initially cathartic about picking up a camera. Since as young as I can remember, I loved messing around with point and shoots and disposable cameras. I liked documenting places I'd go to, liked having photos of friends, girlfriends, pets etc...I'd take way more pictures than other people I knew, but never really though much of it.
My apathy had little to do with photography, though. Until a few years ago, I was pretty much completely consumed by my image, status, materialism and ways to get ahead in life. Basically, I thought more money equaled more happiness and was always focused on the next thing I needed to do achieve that. It's ironic the one thing I'd naturally do without thinking or analyzing was capture a moment to savor an experience. It's like my upbringing, surroundings, conditioning were all telling my to act a certain way but my subconscious kept alive how I really wanted to exist.
In what ways to you see a photography project as similar to a musician's album?
I can only guess what it's like. But, it seems like many musicians go through phases of producing work, promoting work and taking a break from work. In lots of interviews, artists say that one or two songs may have been written while on tour, but the majority of an album is created when they confine themselves to a remote location for weeks/months on end with the sole intention of making music. After they finish the album, artists go on tour to promote it. They continue to do so until they're exhausted, go on vacation and the cycle begins again. Each album doesn't have to be a culmination of the bands existence. It can be a reflection of who they are at the time, how they've evolved as musicians or how they've matured (or haven't matured) as human beings.
This approach makes a lot of sense to me. Photography is an incredibly creative, exploratory process that also requires a lot of technical knowledge. In order for me to really drop in and connect with the side of me that is spontaneous, curious but also grounded enough to properly capture what I envision, I have to create enough space from all the to do lists, where I'm going to sell work, social obligations, errands, drama, work that is life. I always go back to that question on the written test for a license about how long it takes a car going x miles an hour to come to a complete stop. Our brains are the same way. In the same day, if I'm in get things done mode for however many hours, it's totally unrealistic to then say "ok time to be creative now" and expect to connect to the same place as if I was solely dedicated to making art.
So, for my own process, it's been most beneficial to specifically designate when im producing and when I'm promoting. It doesn't mean they never overlap. But, separation between the two allows me to be better at focusing my attention on the task at hand.
Why do you photograph water?
On a more superficial level the ocean is beautiful. It morphs into formidable shapes and textures and reflects light in ways that respond amazingly to photography. That's the answer I tell people I don't know that well or are satisfied with a light but tangible answer.
The truth is that at my core I am a scared, nervous, anxious person. But, when I'm in or around large bodies of water (this doesn't work in a sink or tub) I feel a range of emotions that immediately snap me out of my fearful state. I feel free. I feel spacious. I feel connected to something greater than me. And being in SF where the swell can get to be 20-25 ft, I am constantly in awe and humbled by its power. It's something so amazing to me that I would cancel any and all plans to wake up at sunrise and go witness time and time again.
What is it about the backs of waves that interests you?
When I connect with something, I really want to understand it. I love interpreting the nuances of its behavior and learning how it manifests. With respect to the ocean, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm becoming a marine biologist or learning about the topography of earth below it. It means viewing it at all different angles and perspectives, times of day, parts of the year. After seeing a wave break from above, I discovered a whole other world of beauty and behavior I never new existed. The streaks of froth and reflecting light or the way the water almost looks like braided sinew is just so rad.
From a photographic standpoint, it's an amazing subject. Because it isn't seen in every day life, at first the images seem abstract, then ones brain goes to guessing that it's something more familiar, only to realize it's something different.