Once again I’m back but this time with a very special friend of the band and “official” photographer. It’s my pleasure to have the sixth installment of 10 with TEN be with the incomparable and gifted photographer Marc Goldstein. This interview took place at L.A.’s premier organic vegan restaurant, Real Food Daily.
Marc, ever since our shoot for BPM magazine you have become part of the family. Not only are you my favorite paparazzo but you are one of the more interesting people to have a conversation with…intelligent, witty and not short on opinions. Your way with words is matched only by your way with the camera. Say fromage and start talking.
1. How and why did you become a photographer? – tell me a little bit about your vision or philosophy when you are behind the camera? I had always fiddled a little with cameras, but before the dawn of digital photography, it was an expensive occupation. At the time I got my first digital camera in 2001 -a Nikon Coolpix 990- Patrick Kahn launched thebookla.com, an infotainment online magazine. We had this idea to do photographic event coverage and post them online within 24 hours. No one else was doing this at the time and it became very popular. While it was primarily a hobby to get my head out of storyboarding for commercials and music videos, I became serious about it, and people started to take notice. I stuck to my guns and focused on the subject I cared most about: music, particularly the dance scene. In a town filled with exhibitionists and attention mongers, I made a lot of friends this way, discovered the natural relationship between cameras and beautiful women, and enjoyed the fact that producing a photo takes seconds, while an illustration sometimes takes forever. I mostly enjoy the fact that photography is a never ending challenge that you must constantly overcome and can be applied to so many aspects of human life. When shooting, I look for the memorable shot that will make me, the subject and the viewer go “wow”. Sometimes you get it in one shot, sometimes it takes hundreds. There are elements you try to control, others that happen almost by accident. There’s some magic in there, and you hope to get lucky with the outcome.
2. Give me three good reasons why I should like the French besides french fries, champagne and the movie “amelie”? Give me a break. I despise most things “French” because as a whole, there’s a cultural arrogance and a xenophobia that is out of place in a 21st. Century global culture. Still, when you break the crust, you will find proud, warm hearted, fun loving, and incredibly hospitable people. It’s not easy to carry two thousand years of history in the collective subconscious. What I miss most is the lack of sexual hang ups and the food. French fries were invented in 1682, in London, by an East End manufacturing company called Fish & Chip, Ltd.
3. Are there any specific photographers that inspire you? What else inspires you, film, music, art? The two photographers that inspire me the most are Helmut Newton and David La Chapelle. There are of course countless others whose work humble me to the point were I want to sell my equipment and go sell some fruits at a street corner. There’s a deep respect amongst photographers, knowing that we’re all engaged in the same voyeuristic pursuit of the perfect image. When you’’re an artist who works and lives amongst your peers, you’re in good company. As for inspiration, I am just compelled to do what I do. It’s visceral, I’m not sure where it comes from.
4. Are you always looking at life through a lens – do you see a possible picture in your mind where ever you go? Yes. There are more snapshots in my brain than in my computer.
5. Tell me a little bit about your equipment? how big is your lens? do you have a wide angle…are dark rooms scary? Hmm.. Tell you about my “equipment”, how “big” it is, and what I think of “dark rooms” ? Are you propositioning me Fran?
6. If you weren’t a photographer what would you be? I would be happy not to have to carry 40lbs of gear at events.
7. African tribes believe that when you take a person’s photo you are taking a piece of their soul away from them…what do you think of that? I would say they have a point.
8. In your opinion what is the current state of affairs in music today – What are your favorite bands and what are you listening to lately? From a business stand point, the music industry is in disarray, too big and too stiff to be able to adjust to new times, has gouged prices across the board blaming file sharing for all it’s shortcomings, while the artists and the consumer get the shaft. Yet at the same tie, because of the availability of affordable recording technology and independent distribution networks, there are more artists putting out music than ever before. I think these are transitional times and that the battle will be settled on the internet. My personal forecast: within 5 years, in a new “song driven” market, the online music store replaces the local retailer, artists are no longer dependant on a label for distribution, and labels will cling on to survival exploiting mainstream America, until it catches on, then they’ll go belly up. There goes Mr. Big’s dental plan and Lexus… Right now, here are the 3 CDs I can’t live without: Daddy G: DJ Kicks, Ulrich Schnauss: A Strangely Isolated Place, and High Contrast: High Society.
9. What makes the French the most romantic people on earth…and how can you be French with a name like Goldstein? And yet another “French” cliché. I think there’s a deeper appreciation between men and women, including their differences, as well as better manners: we don’t call women bitches or hos, unless there’s no other alternative in the French vocabulary. This and the fact that the culture is more into “being” than “becoming”. I guess it makes romance a little easier. My last name is Jewish, which isn’t a nationality. My father was a Jew from Romania who survived the camps, my mother a protestant born in Nazi Germany. I was born in France. Go figure.
10. What is your favorite Marc Goldstein photo and why? Also, who or what was your favorite subject to shoot and why? You bait and I bite… It is the “baptism” photo of you and Robert in the water surrounded with flowers, and its companion, the 4 lads holding candles. It came out of the either, and was perfectly executed to my greatest satisfaction. Also for the fact that these photos were met by some fierce adversity from the label, concerned that it was too edgy and that it could potentially hurt your career. I wonder what the Red Hot Chili Peppers had to put up with when they posed naked with a tube sock. Certainly didn’t hurt their career, did it ? I think that Rock’ n’ Roll has lost its soul due to too many boring publicity shots. My all time favorite subject was a coverage for URB magazine of an underground female boxing club downtown. Real.
Bonus Question: Describe in detail the moment you first heard West Indian Girl? Driving back into the Sunset from Coachella, the endless field of rotating windmills providing a surreal landscape. Juxtaposed to the music… Sounds like… Sounds like Jane’s Addiction meets Steely Dan… What are they called again… West Indian Girl… Dope.
thanx goldstein this has been great.. hahaha i bet everyone that reads this goes “really, french fries weren’t made in france?” — F. Ten 4:50PM