Haley Golden is a self-taught photographer living in California with an eye for finding the unusual in the usual. A minimalist aesthetic combined with a playful colour palette leaves the viewer wanting to know more (namely, why you need a hose for artificial turf…)
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got started in photography.
My father actually built a small darkroom in our house; it always held a particular allure for me. Although he was just an amateur, he had a good eye. The first thing you saw when you entered my house was a gallery wall with an assortment of 10×12” black and white photos; some were developed by my Dad, but most were taken by our dear friend, Michael Weisbrot, who dedicated his life to portrait and street photography. They were artistic, not typical at all, and I think that made an impression on me. That wall was such a source of pride for me, mostly because I think it represented a side of myself that I wasn’t tapped into yet. I was always a deep appreciator of art and photography, but always kept a safe distance from creating it myself. I would dabble in classes here and there and religiously take photos on my travels and for myself. It wasn’t until very recently that I started to take my photography more seriously and started to invest in my work. The transformation to considering myself a ‘Photographer’ feels like it happened overnight. This realization has really opened a lot of avenues for me and I feel like I’m honoring a part of myself that was closed for a long time.
Whenever I shoot in black and white, it doesn’t feel quite right, and I often regret it. I really see in color and think of it as a form of expression.
Who or what inspires your image making?
There is a definite sensibility and awareness that I look for, but it’s hard to define. I will say that those who use(d) color in photography as an art form, such as Eggleston, are huge inspirations. Whenever I shoot in black and white, it doesn’t feel quite right, and I often regret it. I really see in color and think of it as a form of expression. I am also drawn to the visual language and minimalism that one would associate with modern art movements. There is nothing more beautiful to me than a painting by somebody like Paul Klee or Mark Rothko. However, the best inspiration comes from daily life—from the most ordinary things.
What is it about a scene that makes you want to stop and capture it?
From a very young age, I remember having definite opinions of what did and did not appeal to me aesthetically when I would look at a photograph. This applies to almost everything visual in my life, which is why I’ve probably found myself in the professional worlds of interior design, fashion, and retail. I immediately scan my surroundings and think of ways to improve it. This mentality applies to how I make images and it might verge on being somewhat obsessive. I take photos out of a necessity to soothe my brain and it usually comes to me pretty instantly. For me, the worst torture is being in a situation where I, a) do not have a good enough camera and/or b) cannot stop to take the photos I see. I will also add that color and composition rival anything else to me and will always be a consideration in my photographs. I am mostly drawn to nature, city infrastructure, and, often, their relation to one another. However, there is no subject that I want to confine myself to. That being said, I’m usually the person who would go to a zoo with a camera and avoid taking photos of the animals. The obvious does not really interest me.
What do you do to keep challenging yourself creatively?
There are two ways I am currently trying to challenge myself. The first is pushing myself to learn more of the technical side. I will admit that I have a bit of a phobia, probably because it does not come all that naturally to me. It’s definitely an everyday struggle for me, but I’ve been reading a lot of technical books and resources on the Internet. I also try to geek out with more experienced photographers and ask as many questions as possible. I truly believe that the more technically savvy you are, the more freedom you have creatively. The second part is staying disciplined. I try to keep shooting as much as I can, whenever I can. Some weeks are harder than others, but it’s so important for me to keep my creative momentum.
I’m usually the person who would go to a zoo with a camera and avoid taking photos of the animals. The obvious does not really interest me.
What has been the high point of your photography career so far?
Honestly, I’m just getting started. I will say that, being a part of the Instagram community, where I’ve found so many creative and inspiring like-minded folks has been a real high point for me. I’m always surprised and delighted by the feedback and connections I get through its platform. Instagram is how I got connected with Son of a Gun!
What is next for you – are you currently working on any photographic projects that you can tell us about?
I am planning a few trips this coming year, and I look forward to documenting my travels. Besides that, I hope to start a project this year on homes/interiors of friends and family. This has become an important subject to me ever since my childhood home burned to the ground a few years ago. It was a very traumatic experience for my family. I think exploring the role of home in other people’s lives would be very healing for me. I have a couple more things up my sleeve, but I’ll keep the rest to myself 😉 … so stay tuned.
See more of Haley’s work at:
All images copyright Haley Golden.