Daniel Harvey Gonzalez
Who are you? What do you do?
I’m a student of documentary photography whose work focuses on the familiarities of identity. I aim to make photographs that most young people from all over the U.K. could look at and, in some way, identify with. Whether it’s a pair of fucked up old Reeboks strung up on an overhead street line or a sun spotted old bloke sampling a stout outside a Spoons with the West Ham crest inked on his bicep.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised on council estates in Hackney, East London, and Basildon, Essex. I live and work in Cardiff, Wales.
Your style in 3 words?
Honest. Natural. Relatable.
Your weakness? Your strength?
My biggest weakness is my inability to hold my tongue, and that’s also my biggest strength. I’m good at talking to people, I’m also very bad at talking to people. I should learn more subtlety. I get a genuine thrill out of gaining access to a subject that’s a bit out of reach for some people who may be too anxious or nervous to even make an approach, whether it’s drag queens I’ve photographed in various states of undress or strangers on the street who catch my eye for one reason or another – usually old school tattoos or mouthfuls of gold.
What makes you different?
I’m happy acknowledging that the art world is bullshit. I know too many people who walk into photography or art, and their gut instinct tells them ‘a lot of this is bullshit’, or ‘who is this even for?’. Fast forward three years and they’ve got their degree and they’ve learned to masquerade as one of the bullshitters and Jesus Christ, they ain’t half proud of it. I don’t want that accolade. Art is for its creator, and that works both ways.
When did you decide to become a photographer?
I kind of fell into it after visiting the Capa Centre in Hungary. I was struck by the depth of Capa’s work and the scope for storytelling that photography had, and wanted to really give it a go.
What do you find most fascinating about the creative process?
What I find most fascinating about the creative process is how the most seemingly irrelevant of things can spur you on to go out and make some pictures. When England lost the world cup, my flat mates and I went out and rehomed a three-seater recliner that’d been left on the street. That experience really imbued me with a lot of creative direction. My friend’s letting me borrow his tripod to go and make some photographs at night time, something I’ve never dabbled with. It’s funny the items you see strewn around the street at night.
A few words about your favourite creation?
My favourite creation is the picture I made of the man whose hands and fingers are tattooed with his son’s name, “Samual”. Looking at him, covered in really dated bluish-green ink, dripping gold, and wearing a hat and sunglasses – you’d expect he was a really dodgy bloke. But after approaching him, he told me stories relating to all his tattoos, all about his son, his favourite Cardiff City football games. Such a gentle, soft spoken guy. Looks can be deceiving! It’s always a nice anecdote.
Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…
Mostly Instagram photographers, namely Harry Conway, Rhodri Mullaney, Oliver Cargill, and some independent presses like Lost Generation, Blame Your Parents, Loose London, DIY Youth. Big up all of them. They inspired me. As well as them there’s some originals like Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, and Nan Goldin. They’re all about seeing something extraordinary in the everyday, shit that people my age experience all the time, especially people whose backgrounds are similar to mine.
A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?
I want to go back to where I was raised and focus on my friends and people who I saw every day on the estate. People society discards as chavs, dole cheats, lazy dossers, junkies, the daily targets of Rupert Murdoch’s media-wide game of soggy biscuit. What a wanker. Those people have some stories to tell, and a lot of them were born into situations that your average student or graduate can’t even begin to imagine. I’d like to make a body of work that makes your average person hold their tongue next time they scoff at a scruffy kid on the street. People need to use their noggins a bit more.
Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“
Making sure people stop buying Vivienne Westwood’s bollocks.
2018: Where are we going?
Further and further down the rabbit hole.
When the going gets tough…
The tough crack open a Special Brew and get on with it.
Your city’s favourite spots?
Probably the Prince of Wales. It’s a Wetherspoons. The printing room at my university. A few bars. I don’t know. Whether I find people I like or want to photograph. My mate Lauryn’s kitchen (many a fun time was had). My mate Conor’s cabin in his garden. We had a sick snooker hall where you could get a pint for three quid and five games of snooker for a quid. They knocked it down and built offices. So, there’s that. Whoever’s kitchen or garden or flat can provide the best kicks.
Do you have a vision?
Yeah, I do. I have a vision that one day I’ll be able to make work that is what it is. I have a vision where eventually, all photographers can make work that is what it is. Strictly documentary stuff that is taken seriously without the addition of some old guard elitist bollocks. If I can have that when I’m older, I’ll be happy.
What would you do if you could change the World?
Make gin free. No, I’d do some nice things like make sure drug addiction was treated as an illness rather than a crime. I’d make everyone happy. Ha!
Tell us about your future plans…
To build myself up to being the photographer I want to be. I’ve got to get my hands on a few things and then I’ll be able to get back to the South East and start burning through rolls. More serious, interesting portraits. More natural light. More stories. More bodies of text. That’s a point, if anyone who reads this is a dab hand at writing things (and isn’t a prick) – get in touch. I could use the help of a writer!
Last but not least: what is your favourite Song?