Since graduating from Photography Studies College in 2005 Tom’s career has spanned art, portraiture, documentary and commercial projects. In 2014 Tom founded The Fox Darkroom to share his love for film photography and darkroom printing. Rather than focusing on nostalgia or trends, Tom’s practice explores the relevance of traditional processes in the contemporary landscape of photography. In 2016 Fox was extended to include a gallery which has become an outpost for photographers and the broader public to engage with photographic works.
Tom’s artistic practice begun in 2010 with the project Volta which featured a series of black and white photographs documenting the work and day-to-day lives of communities impacted by child labour in Ghana. Since then Tom has been actively exploring different themes through traditional mediums. Tom’s 2017 exhibition Passage featured a number of atmospheric black and white landscapes captured over two expeditions around the Mont Blanc region of France, Italy and Switzerland.
We recently caught up with Tom to reflect on his time at PSC and the diversity of his career.
What inspired you to study photography?
I knew from an early age that a traditional career trajectory wasn't on the cards for me. I wasn't a big fan of school but always really enjoyed both sport and art. Once I discovered the darkroom in year 11 I was hooked and spent the next two years working on darkroom prints. It was the first time I started to feel my confidence grow at school, I wanted to keep that feeling going which led to me enrolling at PSC.
Why did you choose to study at PSC?
From my first visit to PSC I knew it was an environment I wanted to be part of. I felt it was both supportive and immersive, it was exactly what I was seeking to grow my creative practice.
Did you know what type of photographer you wanted to be when you started?
When I left high school I had no idea about what type of photographer I wanted to be. I knew what inspired me; the works of the early pioneers of documentary photography such as Robert Frank, Mary Ellen Mark and Cartier-Bresson and the more experimental works of artists such as Duane Michals and Manray. I was lucky enough to hear Elliot Erwitt provide a presentation during my early days at PSC which was truly inspiring. These photographers continue to drive my passion in photography along with a number of contemporary artists especially in Australia.
During my time at PSC I made the strong connections with the commercial lecturers and they provided me with an introduction to the photographic industry by allowing me to assist. I headed down the commercial path.
What was your most rewarding aspect of studying at PSC?
Without a doubt the friendships and connections I made during my study. So many of my lecturers, fellow students and those involved in the college are still part of my life today. So many of the people I meet and collaborate with also have a connection with PSC, it's a nice club to be part of.
Was there a stand out moment for you?
For me the creative side of photography far outweighed the business side when I started out. The business subjects at PSC were helpful but I didn't realise how valuable of a resource it was until I was running my own business. I would tell photographers starting out to develop business skills just like you would nurture your creative practice. Both are crucial for longevity in photography.
What are you most proud of?
There has been lots of things along the way of which I am really proud. The things I care about most are slow burning and more value driven rather than being goals. I combine what I do for work with what I do for love everyday, I get to work with friends rather than colleagues and I genuinely feel the work I do is meaningful. I'm proud of some of the milestones in my business ventures but equally happy with how motivated I am feeling with my creative practice. Being inspired to produce project work is vital for me.
What type of business have you created?
I run The Fox Darkroom & Gallery in Kensington. I established the darkroom in 2014 to share my love for the traditional craft of photography. We run a regular program of workshops covering film photography, developing, darkroom printing as well as medium format, large format and even Tintype photography. We recently just rolled out the first of our digital workshops which we are excited to grow. Our workshops run most weekends are open to people with all skill levels.
We also run an annual tour to Siem Reap, Cambodia in November. This tour is geared towards photographers interested in working on photo-documentary projects. We write personalised assignments for each participant and provide them with support to realise and access their projects. We have an incredible network of locals we work with on this. It is an amazing way to explore a country, we are open to all skill levels and both film and digital mediums. If this sounds like fun you can see more information here.
Through Fox we also have a fantastic community of members who use our facilities and connect on a social level. Again, we welcome folk from all walks of life.
In 2016 I opened the doors to Fox Gallery. It has been by far the most demanding and rewarding venture I have worked on. We have hosted some absolutely incredible exhibitions over the past two years and the gallery is going from strength to strength. It is so inspiring working with some of my favourite photographers on exhibitions.
I'm also one of the co-founders for Australian Photography Awards (APA). We are now the 3rd year of our annual competition and things are growing beautifully. We have a number of fantastic sponsors involved including Fujifilm Australia. You can see more here - www.australianphotographyawards.com.au
Through my commercial practice I'm servicing a number of businesses with advertising and branding content in both photography & video. For the past 10 years this has largely been word of mouth but together with some very talented friends we are working a new venture. The Fox Creative is a creative agency offering design, web-development and branding on-top of our photography & video offering. I'm really looking forward to rolling this out in the coming months.
Lastly I have my arts practice. This is what gets me up early and keeps me up late at night. Since 2011 I have continued to produce and exhibit my photography. I am currently working on a long term project titled 'Of the Sea'. The work explores the way in which people live with the ocean around the world. To date I have spent time documenting communities living with the ocean in Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Indonesia and more recently closer to home in Port Philip Bay. The work will is multilayered in the way that it highlights our deep connection to the oceans but also draw attention to the environmental pressures we are so clearly putting on this planet.
What is your next goal or dream?
My dream is to continue to nurture and make the best out of all of my projects. To continue to find ways to make photography accessible for people. It is a big undertaking but I'm feeling inspired on all fronts.
Tom is currently working on his next endeavour – Of the Sea – a long-term photographic study that honours planet Earth’s greatest river of life: the global ocean.
To see more of Tom’s work visit www.tomgoldner.com.au or follow him on Instagram @tomgoldnerphoto
Applications are now open for our bachelor of photography 2019 intake