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Q&A \ David Goldman

Documentary and portrait photographer David Goldman is better known in the industry for his work with NGOs and humanitarian organisations, travelling the world and directing his colourful lens towards some of its darker corners. Back in 1999, however, he was involved in quite a different kind of shoot, creating one of the most recognisable images of the 1990s for American ‘pop-punk’ rock band, Blink-182.

October 2019

Photographer David Goldman on finding images that resonate, whatever the project.


 

You say that you consider yourself a sort of old-school photographer. Is it something that had grabbed you from a young age?
David Goldman: I suppose I discovered photography in grade 5 when my class took a trip from Toronto to Quebec City. I had a Vivitar 110 camera. The scenic shots looked good and I guess somewhere in my head it seemed like something I might be able to do. Of course at that age I was not really thinking about a career.

How did you land the Blink-182 commission? Were you in an agency portfolio, or did you know someone in the band?
DG: I had been evolving as a photographer and was building my ‘book’. I kept reaching out to art directors and creative directors that I had met over my time as an assistant. Eventually MCA responded, and offered me this project based on the type of work I was creating at the time.

So you weren’t an Blink-182 fan already?
DG: No

“Up until the very last minute, the album was going to be called ‘Turn Your Head and Cough’, hence the glove.”

That image seems so in keeping with the Blink-182 vibe. If you weren't really into the music how did you come up with something so befitting their style?
DG: Well up until the very last minute, the album was going to be called ‘Turn Your Head and Cough’, hence the glove. I thought it was a good visual. So I guess I have the band to thank for that gift! It’s important to remember that there were a solid group of people working with me to help bring the vision to life. My good friend Fainche MacCarthy was huge in doing the sets. Together we used to go to all the prop houses and set shops to find what was required. Lisa Mayer did amazing hair and makeup. Also, I think the Art Director, Tim Stedman, could see that my style would fit in with the aesthetic of the band at that time.

Okay well good job Tim!
DG: He made a good call.

“Not many people are fortunate enough to have created an image that becomes so well known.”

Before you shifted out of the music world you shot some other iconic artists as well. Who where they?
DG: Prior to switching to the type of work I shoot now I worked with HIM, Muse, Joss Stone, The Hives, Liz Phair and others, but it’s the Blink album that is by far the most recognizable.

It’s tough to beat. So now you work with subjects in the space of human rights, maternal health and marginalized people. Would it be right to say that you seem to have found something that fulfils you both artistically and vocationally?
DG: Yes - I feel lucky to have created and continue to create content that has been of value to my clients in a number of different areas. I think if you understand your craft and can communicate with the clients then a good result is likely. Trust is key, too, and having a proven track record helps to mitigate against fears.

Are there any career dreams left to fulfil?
DG: I keep pushing forward and evolving. I’m drawn to stories and people that resonate. As long as I can continue to create work that helps to bring attention to issues and causes I think I will be okay. I’ve been lucky, not many people are fortunate enough to have created an image that becomes so well known.

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