A photographer’s style is what makes them unique, and sets them a part from other photographers. It becomes their identity through images. Photographers such as Brooke Shaden, Diana Debord and Dennys Illic all have unique, stylistic elements that they use to compose their photographs. Conceptual photography is a dominant field that a lot of photographers work in, and it allows the photographer to experiment with ideas, without having the photographic constraints that comes with styles such as portraiture, and landscape photography.
Ronen Goldman is an artist and conceptual photographer, who was born in California but now currently lives in Israel. Ronen’s conceptual photographs consists of him photographing his dreams, and often spends months planning and perfecting his idea before he begins the photographing process. Ronen’s work has been featured in art fairs in London, Brussels, Spain, Germany and also has a social documentary which is part of the ‘World Press Photo’ Exhibition held at the Eretz Israel Museum In Tel Aviv. Below, we chat to Ronen about the processes and stories behind his work, and how he began working as a photographer.
Hi Ronen how are you?
I’m great thanks!
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I was born in California, but when I was four I moved to Israel. I was brought up in Jerusalem, but now I live in the wonderful city of Tel Aviv.
Do you think living where you are has influenced your photographic style in any way?
I suppose it must have, but I’m not really sure how. I think living in a high tension country causes high tension dreams, and that may have trickled through into my work. Other than that I don’t really make political statements with my art, I just use thematic elements combined with stuff that humans go through in their lives.
How did you begin working as a photographer?
I was actually educated as a script writer at Tel Aviv University, but soon after graduation, while doing reserve duty in the desert with a friend(our job was to guard pretty much nothing, in the middle of nowhere), he showed me his camera and got me hooked on the whole scene. He sent me to different beginner forums on the web, and I have been learning about photography ever since.
What type of camera do you use?
A Canon 5d Mk2.
We hear you’re working on a project called the ‘Surrealistic Pillow”, how did you develop the concept for that project?
The project started because I thought to myself – “Hey I should try this“. I have always been interested in dreams, the subconsciousness, and anything that human endeavour has not yet charted completely. I find that dream “events” sometimes have such an impact on my life, almost like waking “events”. Art feeds off of life, and dreaming is an important part in mine; so I try to convey what happens there – through photography.
Each image starts out as a fragment of a dream, and I then use my imagination to complete it into the final image that you see.
What image in your collection are you most proud of?
My favourite is probably “We Are Meant for Each Other”. I am getting married in a few months, and this really both hits a deep chord with me, and much to my delight came out looking super awesome.
Photographing your dreams must become a little complicated at times, do you plan most of your images or just ‘go with the flow’ (so to speak)?.
All these images are very well planned, and can take months to create from conception to the final product. It is definitely quite a lengthy process. I suppose this is why I have been working on ‘The Surrealistic Pillow’ for about seven years, but I have “only” created 22 images.
What do you look for when you look into a lens?
I look at the scene in front of me and try to figure out what interests me about it. Sometimes it’s the quality of light, sometimes it’s freezing movement; but mostly it’s whether or not the content makes me go: “Huh. That’s weird, and interesting. I should show other people”.
What are some of the responses you’ve had about your particular photographs?
Someone asked why in ‘We Are Meant for Each Other’ the lady has a smaller fish “brain”, when it is known that women are smarter than men. I didn’t know what to say to them to be honest, but it is always amazing how people interpret the images in different ways and take away different meanings from them – it is really wonderful.
I love to listen to music and discovering new things, so I like walking around places and just look for odd and interesting occurrences.
What has been one of the best experiences you’ve had whilst out photographing?
When I shot “Dawn” I was just really excited about how my crazy idea I dreamed of is coming to life. I decided I wanted to see that vision I had in my dream, to appear in photo form. That photo excites me. Another thing about the photo shoots, is just being out there and talking about ideas with friends is a great exercise for the freeness of the mind; I’m glad photography allows me that.
What are 5 things you wish you had been told before beginning photography?
Just take pictures.
Stop reading about people doing it.
Stop wondering if you’re good or not.
Stop buying equipment and worrying about the different technicalities of each piece of gear.
Acquire an OK camera, and take a tonne of photographs; you will learn all you need that way.
If you could summarise your entire collection of work in under a sentence, what would it be?
“Sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree?” Oh wait, that’s Eurythmics (laughs).
I’d say that I try to create dream poems through photography.