INTERVIEW: Dina Goldstein

While doing some research on, I came across an amazing body of work by Canadian photographer Dina Goldstein. I was stunned by the thought provoking images that feature iconic princesses in modern day situations. I loved the way that each image had been carefully composed to effectively portray the problems that we face in the world today e.g. obesity, cancer, depression etc. 

I contacted Dina and asked her a few questions about the thought provoking series, her inspirations, and got her advice on making it in the industry. 


Q.When did you start photography? Was it something that you always knew you had an aptitude for?
A.I started photography at 22; I was young and very eager. At the time I was surrounded by all kinds of artist; Musicians, actors , painters and photographers. 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.

In 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.

Belle 2009

Q.Where does your inspiration come from? Who inspires you?
A.Many artists and types of art inspire me. I love and respect all forms of arts and crafts. I try not to be influenced by artists around me and sometimes wear blinders to maintain focus.

I started out most inspired by Diane Arbus, Margaret Bourke White, Dorthea Lang. Also many more life photographers, as my first love is photojournalism and documentary photography. Today the challenge is to be original, as mostly everything has been done! I'm involved in a few photo communities on line and am always on the lookout for people working on original projects.

I don't have any artist 'Heros' - Good artists that have succeeded commercially are just lucky...of course there are so many talented people out there that didn't get a break!

Cinder 2007

 Q.Where did the idea for “The Fallen Princesses” come from?

A.My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news hit me very hard and I was a little depressed. This was exactly at the time that my 3 year old daughter was exposed by her friends to Disney Princesses. I read books and watched movies which my daughter really loved...not necessarily because of the Princess characters but because of the intense stories and ugly witches. 

I started thinking that these Disney Princesses really didn't have to deal with issues like Cancer etc because ultimately there was a happily ever after and besides we really never followed their life past their youth.

I began to do some research which lead to my fascination with the origins of Fairy tales. I explored the original brothers Grimm’s, Hans Christian Andersen stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, not always concluded by a happy ending. Disney of course made some changes and created the happy ending. 

I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues. ....I dreamt up different stories for each Princess and voila a series began. 

Rapunzle 2008

Q.Can you talk me through your feelings towards some of the images in the series?

A.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.

Snow White is about domestic bliss gone realistic. As anyone with children knows, life can get hectic and challenging. Snow White married the Prince, had many children with him and ended up in suburbia. Maybe the Prince lost the Kingdom (as Kingdoms do get conquered often) and now they cannot afford nannies and other domestic help. The Prince is a good guy but cannot help watching Polo on a Sunday afternoon...after-all he now works all week and is tiered by the weekend.

Jasmine finds her strength as she defends her country. This piece speaks to the current disarray taking place in the Middle East. Like many woman today she is now in the front line, equal to men in combat.

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.

The Rapunzel image is my favourite. It is the reason that I began the project and my first conception. I think its the most emotionally provoking image in the series.

Jasmine 2009

Q.What advice would you give to any budding young photographers? 

A.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.

Snowy 2008

Red 2008
Ariel 2009
Princess Pea 2009

Check more of Dina Goldstein's work, including her amazing Dollhouse series on her website


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