Every photograph starts out with a dream or a fragment of a dream that Israeli photographer Ronen Goldman remembers. With a keen interest in the subconscious mind and dreams, Goldman has spent months at a time transforming images from his mind into a single expressive photograph. His current project, “The Surrealistic Pillow,” has been a seven-year-long endeavor, requiring careful planning, constant reflection, and profound attentiveness.
Born in California, raised in Jerusalem, and residing in Tel Aviv, Goldman attended Tel Aviv University where he was educated as a script writer. However, it wasn’t until after graduation that an old friend introduced him to the art of photography. Soon enough, Goldman was hooked. “It’s a wonderful art form,” says Goldman. “I love that you can tell a whole story in one frame, and have the viewer comprehend the whole thing, no matter what language they speak, and all in a matter of seconds.”
Get our weekly newsletter directly in your inbox!Sign up
Recreating last night’s dream
According to Goldman, his surreal photographs are inspired by an interest in dreams, the sub-consciousness, and anything that human endeavor 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. The images start out as a fragment of a dream, and then I use my imagination to complete it into the final image in my mind,” Goldman explains.
Recreating your dreams in a photograph is not the average artistic process. For Goldman, work starts as soon as he wakes up, when he begins writing down different elements from his dreams. The next step is remembering the overall atmosphere the dream presented and the emotions it conjured up. Once the process is complete, Goldman says he collects all of the elements from his dream to recreate the scene in his mind. And for him, figuring out how to execute his idea is the fun part. “I gather the elements, the people needed, scout locations and times of day and research the light and how it falls on the surroundings at different times,” says Goldman. Then, he alerts his small crew and makes the image come to life, with all of the photographic elements shot on location at the same time and under the same lighting to achieve optimal results.
Unlike most photographers, for Goldman, post-processing can take days, weeks, or even months because he layers the images together and masks the objects as needed to create the illusions that define his work. He doesn’t stop until he is happy with the results, which may be why he has created only about 20 images over the past six years!
The secret behind his success?
Goldman is passionate and works hard, but there may be more to it. “I actually have what’s called a lazy eye since childhood, which means I can hardly see through my left eye, while my right eye has perfect vision. My eyes look fine, so no one can really tell. I’ve discovered by chance that some of my favorite photographers have it as well, which makes me think there is something about our condition making it easier for us to render 3D images into 2D creations- which is what photography is all about.”
Though Goldman’s theory on lazy-eyed photographers has yet to be proven, his success in an increasingly popular artistic sector has. Currently Goldman is working with several major advertising agencies and clients to create promotional visuals based on his surreal style. Recently, he helped launch a new image for the campaign Redland London, and has plans to create more dream-based artwork for his project, currently being exhibited in Paris.
Photos: Ronen Goldman