Interviewed by William Grant
Doug McGoldrick is a fascinating man. I met him while attending Columbia College Chicago where he teaches photography classes part-time. When I took his class, I was in the process of creating a new photographic series that I was incredibly passionate about. Doug was one of the biggest influences for me during that time. His encouragement and insight helped push me to create some of my best work.
When I was assigned the task of interviewing an artist for Hair Trigger 2.0, I immediately reached out to Doug. From my time working with him, I knew he would make for an interesting interview. He’s done a bit of everything and seems to always be ready for something new and compelling. In the interview below he tells me about his passion for photography, his favorite things to shoot, and how he defines his success.
Will Grant: When did your passion for photography begin?
Doug McGoldrick: When I was in grade school my dad was an amateur photographer, and we would sometimes go out on weekends and take nature photos together. What sparked it? Getting photos back from the camera store and seeing my photos when I was a kid was super exciting.
WG: You’ve done a wide variety of work ranging from weddings to industrial factories to motorcyclists and more. Is there one subject you’ve done that interests you the most or is there fun in always changing?
DM: For me whenever I can get to see behind the scenes someplace where most people don’t get to be, I’m happiest. I think in my heart doing documentary-type work is my favorite. I think part of it is, growing up I was very shy and bringing my camera into a place to take pictures gave me a reason to talk to people.
WG: Do you have other non-photographic hobbies and do they ever bleed into your photographic work?
DM: I do a lot of painting and drawing and they tend to go together with my photography nicely. Also bike racing and motorcycles are things I’m into, taking photos in those communities gives me an excuse to talk to people and get more involved than I would normally be.
WG: Is there a series/subject matter that you’d like to explore in your work that you haven’t yet?
DM: Oh man, so many. I would really love to go on tour with a dance company or band and shoot everything. Also any sort of big, dirty industry.
WG: You’re a part-time teacher at Columbia College Chicago. What is a key piece of advice you share with all your students? What is something unexpected or valuable that you’ve learned from your students?
DM: Lately I’ve been teaching a business of photography class and I like to let all the students know that in the photo biz moreso than almost any other, competition is incredible and to make it you need to be a person who hustles harder than the rest. I’m always learning so much from the students, a lot of it is tech stuff, but to me the most exciting thing is seeing how people's way of seeing the world changes.
WG: How do you define success and, by your definition, do you consider yourself successful?
DM: I think if you are making your living from photography you are in a sense successful, because it’s really hard. In my head I have this picture of success where I’m not pushing myself out there for work but work is just coming to me; I don’t think I’m there and probably nobody really is. Sometimes I feel like a success, sometimes I don’t. I was talking to another photographer recently, joking about how some months you want to start driving for Lyft and some months you feel like you could buy a Tesla. It’s a strange biz but way better than going to an office every day.
See more of Doug’s work at dougphoto.com
William Grant is a Photography and Fiction Writing major at Columbia College Chicago. He enjoys broccoli and Anna Kendrick.