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Interview with photograher Dina Goldstein...by thecargohteam | Comment
Twitter, among other things, has been the greatest tool for discovering new talents here at Cargoh.
Just last week, our good friend Alex Asher Sears sent us a link to Dina Goldstein's photo series "Fallen Princesses". Although it has been around for a couple years, it had never crossed our desks. Not sure how that happened there, but we're super happy to have found it now!
The Tel Aviv born photographer makes her home in Vancouver, and shoots in exotic locations all over the world. We had a chance to catch up with her last week, and dig a little deeper into "Fallen Princesses".
Cargoh: Tell us a little about your history as a photographer. Where did you get your start?
Dina: I started photography at 23yrs; I was young and very eager. At the time I was surrounded by all kinds of artist; Musicians, actors , painters, photogs. I had a world of material to photograph. I set up a studio in my apartment and went for it. I worked part time at a photo supply store and in my spare time photographed anything and everything. I could get discounts at the store on equipment and processing so it really helped me out. At the beginning I thought that I wanted to be a photojournalist so I traveled to Gaza and the Westbank in hopes of getting some good material that would help me break in. I came back from the Middle East with some good images and a new prospective. I soon realized that the sometimes isolated and often dangerous world of photojournalism was not for me. I am a people person and really need my friends and family around me. I think that it was good for me to understand that early on in my career. Instead I began to pursue editorial photography, which was more suited for me.
Cargoh: How did you come up with the concept for Fallen Princesses? What was the inspiration for the series?
Dina: Jordan, my daughter, was three at the time and was just starting to get into the ‘Princess phase’. Princesses were everywhere and I too was getting introduced to them. ( I grew up in Israel in the early 70’s , and was not exposed to Disney at all ). Just around the same time my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The two events collided and made me wonder what a Princesses would look like if she had to battle a disease, struggle financially or deal with aging. I began to imagine what could happen to the Princesses later in life and after the happily ever after. Naturally they would have to deal with challenges that all modern woman face. My first idea was Rapunzel going through chemo and loosing her precious hair . I began to loosely sketch and came up with ideas for the rest of the images. With a very limited budget and a lot of volunteer help, I shot the series over two years.
Cargoh: What is the message behind the series? Show women that real life happens to everyone, even princesses?
Dina: I am a fierce realist so I wanted the Princesses to be in real life situations with problems of their own. But now the series has developed a life of its own and there is so much discussion around each scenario. The interpretations are so individual and personal.
Cargoh: How was the overall reaction? Did you ever get a call from Disney?
Dina: I posted the pictures on JPG.com to get some feedback from my peers. Without my knowledge the series was posted on the web. I began to get so many emails and blog interview requests. Overnight the Princesses made their way around the world and went viral. Disney posted them on their site along with Annie’s Disney series. The pictures continue to find their way around the Internet. I was fine with it until there was some manipulation and suddenly Ariel was sushie…a cute idea but not mine.
Cargoh: Was there any controversy around any of the images?
Dina: Good art creates conversation and discussion so I’m really pleased that my work has sparked some controversy. There have been discussion groups on the web that go on for miles about Not so little Red. The issue revolves around how and if fast food has contributed to her obesity. Many overweight people argue that the two are not connected and battle it out to make their point. They claim that I’m stereotyping. Jasmine was another much discussed piece. Some accused me of placing the Middle Eastern Princess as a terrorist. My intention was to display her strength and courage. She is a a warrior, fighting on the front lines, just as so many woman are today in Iraq. In general I’m interested in hearing what people have to say but I’m not taking anything personally.
Cargoh: How did you cast such perfect looking characters to play the various roles?
Dina: I found the Princesses in all sorts of places, mostly in Vancouver. I met Snow White at a wedding, Cinderella was a hostess at a restaurant, Red was a clerk at a lingerie store, Rapunzel and Pea were models, Belle is an actress and a friend. Jasmine was cast through Craig’s list and shot in L.A. I met Ariel at a fashion show and Beauty was also cast from Craigsllist. Some took me a long time to find and others just appeared out of the blue. They were brought to life by Vicky Chan, who brilliantly did the makeup, hair and styling.
Cargoh: Where did you shoot the images?
Dina: I shot the images at various locations around Vancouver. I did a lot of scouting then I did a lot of begging, borrowing and bargaining.
Cargoh: At Cargoh, our community is made up of independent artists and designers. Any advice for a young creative getting started?
Dina: I find that a lot of young aspiring artists today are passionate but lack work ethic. When I started out I worked a lot and didn’t make much or any money. That went on for years.Now there are a lot of artists coming out of school and expecting to make the big bucks right away. I say pay your dues and don’t charge too much right off the top. Get as much experience as possible and make your mistakes at the beginning without too much consequence. Work up to getting the prestigious jobs.
Cargoh: What part of being an freelance photographer do you enjoy the most?
Dina: Freelance work is very exciting but is not for everyone. For one you have to be very disciplined and organized. You have to be prepared for anything, so you should also have a flexible personality. I’ve found that not one of my 17 years in the biz has ever been the same. I’ve had very good runs, where the work flowed easily and consistently and some very dry periods. I’ve learned that when its slow that’s the time to catch up on the nasty paperwork, reach out to new clients and work on your own concepts.
Cargoh: What next? We'd love to see more!
Dina: I’m getting a new project together now and hope to shoot in May.