Last week on June 25th, at the age of 95, Hal Gould passed away. Gould was the owner of the well known Camera Obscura gallery, which closed in 2011. He was also one of the founders of Colorado Photographic Arts Center and the Upper Level Gallery. The Western History / Genealogy department owns a collection of his photographic prints as well as a portrait of Gould done by photographer Glenn Cuerden.
Aside from our collection, his photographic work is included in many other collections, including that of the Denver Art Museum. He has won numerous awards for his photos and for his photo-advocacy, and in 2012, the Colorado Photographic Arts Center established the Hal Gould Vision in Photography Award to recognize those in the community who, like Gould, have worked to promote the medium.
Hal Gould was born in 1920 in Wyoming and grew up in New Mexico on his father’s ranch. He attended Baylor University to study dentistry, but was drafted into the Army during World War II. He had an interest in photography and after his discharge, in 1946, he took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Eventually ending up in Denver, Gould opened a commercial studio, The House of Photography, in the Cherry Creek neighborhood in 1955, and the logo above is from his commercial work. He also pursued selling his artistic photography, but never found much profit from his original images.
In 1963 Gould and more than a dozen other photography enthusiasts formed the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) and the Upper Level Gallery. Then in 1980, Gould who had been presenting shows in the Upper Level Gallery since the start, pulled out of CPAC, at the time an unfriendly split. It was then that he also closed his commercial studio and opened the famous Camera Obscura Gallery which he ran until 2011.
Camera Obscura was noted for feeling like a museum rather than a commercial gallery. Gould was often praised for having a wealth of knowledge about fine art photography and curating shows around photography he liked, rather than what might sell for the highest price. He was known for treating every visitor to Camera Obscura as his personal guest, inspiring others to share his enthusiasm for his exhibits. He was a much loved member of the Denver arts community and well respected for his knowledge and passion for sharing the photographic arts.
There is a documentary in the works about Hal Gould, but release date is unclear from the website, www.themaninthedarkroom.com
You can also search Hal Gould in the DPL catalog to see exhibition catalogs and other materials.