When the Quarantine Hit, Dan Goldberg Went Back to Basics

“Quarantining was a gift.  It gave me an opportunity to slow down and get back to basics.” 

Dan Goldberg

From the outside, looking in, being unable to operate a business as you usually would, is anything but a gift. However, Dan Goldberg has a different entrepreneurial point of view. He used the quarantine to re-discover why he became a photographer in the first place. Here is his experience.

This series called “Quarantine Still Life” is a hauntingly beautiful study of light and artistry. What was your original intent in shooting this series?

After two weeks of quarantine, I needed to get back to the studio and start shooting again. My original intent was just to keep busy. I was anxious and nervous, and for me, still life photography is a slow process and very calming. I put together my view camera, inspired to start something new. I felt like I was shooting 8×10 film. I was getting back to my roots and falling in love with the process all over again. I looked in the pantry and found some Spam, sardines, and an orange. Then I saw a bottle of homemade wine that I brought back from Macau, China, and put together a still life.  

Having to leave your studio for several weeks meant coming back to a quiet and still space. You lead with your senses, describing the smells, the light, and the sounds. Your explanation of your studio is no different. What role did your senses play in creating this series?

There was nobody outside and no traffic when driving into the studio. When I opened the studio’s back door, I could smell gas from a burned-out pilot light and rotten bananas in the kitchen. It was dark and a bit eerie. I know it had only been two weeks, but it felt like a lifetime. I turned on some Neil Young and stood still, just watching the way the light was coming through the glass block in my shop. Later that day, I saw a sliver of the sun shining through my skylight and was inspired.

I knew I had wanted to shoot with natural light, but I have never used my skylight or the west-facing glass block as a light source before. For the next few weeks, I started chasing the light around the studio, moving my set to just the right spot to capture that perfect sliver of light. It moved fast and was not as forgiving as north light. 

How was this work different than still life imagery you’ve done in the past?  

I often use several lights, and it can be extremely tedious and time-consuming. Using natural light that was moving quickly meant I had to be nimble and more spontaneous and fluid in my approach. I usually have an assistant, digital tech, and stylists collaborating with me. I shot this series on my own, and although it had its challenges, it was also a lot of fun, refreshing, and rewarding. 

So much of your persona is about camaraderie, service, and welcoming others with open arms. Looking back on this project, you created this work all on your own. What did you learn about yourself, your studio, and your work? What will you take with you in the future? 

I have always had a lot of respect for my crew, but doing everyone’s job gave me an even greater appreciation for what they do. I also really enjoyed the creative process and being alone. Spending time studying the light was peaceful. This project has taught me to slow down a bit and spend more time with the creative process.

Follow Dan on Instagram for imagery that draws you in, welcoming you to the table.

Leave a Reply