DPP Home Profiles Lynn Goldsmith: In The Looking Glass

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lynn Goldsmith: In The Looking Glass

Lynn Goldsmith challenges identity and perception with a body of self-portraits that she has been creating, assembling and crafting for more than 10 years

This Article Features Photo Zoom

“There are a number of them that come from fairy tales and myths,” she says, “obviously, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Mirror, Mirror… I would then investigate what those things mean. For example, Little Red Riding Hood. I think Little Red Riding Hood sent out this message, beware of the wolf, blah, blah, blah, but when I look at it and question what effect this fairy tale had on me as a kid, I think, ‘Why was she wearing red? They didn’t wear red cloaks then. Red is a sign of seduction. And the wolf, maybe she was out there seducing the wolf.’ My brain goes off into other areas. For me, I start learning and reinterpreting. The footman is screaming at Cinderella in my own brain. There are a lot of little jokes, but there’s really a kind of study for me of what various fables and popular culture and mass media and Hollywood cinematography—what effect those have had on us. There’s a lot of thought that goes into each one.”

So with so many influences and leaps of imagination and internal narrative, it’s no wonder that there’s so much variation in look, style and mood from one image to another. In the course of this project, Goldsmith has assumed so many personas that it makes you wonder which one, if any, is the real Lynn Goldsmith.

“Each one is different,” she says, “but I can tell you that the brain wants to know that. And that’s the thing that I’m fighting, saying that there’s no such thing as fixed identity. People want to put their handle on it. I’m trying to break limiting thought patterns, and I think the digital world has opened that up for us. For a lot of people, particularly older people, the digital world immediately puts them into a state of fear because it’s new. And young people, their brains are just open to it. They don’t need to know the why, where or how, they just flow right into it. And in my own way, these are things that I’m addressing through the work.”

Adds Goldsmith, “The point is really that it’s just me, or that it’s just one person in particular, and the fact that I change age, I change gender, I change race, is to point out that there’s no such thing as a fixed identity. I used to rail against the title that would often be given to me of rock ’n’ roll photographer because I photographed a lot of other kinds of people, much less I did travel work and photojournalism, so I hated being pigeonholed. But I understood that people need to identify you as something.”

How much of each finished image was there in the store display and how much came from Goldsmith’s imagination? It seems like a logical question for the viewer to consider when faced with these fantastic scenarios. And that’s Lynn Goldsmith’s point.

Goldsmith’s Gear
The Looking Glass project has taken place during a time of huge changes in photography technology. Goldsmith describes her equipment choices: “I used a variety of equipment over the 10 years. The Mamiya was used for shooting the windows when I went out at night, as well as for some elements that needed to appear large within the final image. I use a number of Mamiya D [digital] lenses, which are optimized for the various Mamiya models’ big sensors. This includes a 28mm, 45mm, 55mm [leaf shutter], 80mm [both focal-plane and leaf-shuttered versions], 110mm [leaf shutter], 120mm Macro, 150mm and 75-150mm zoom. The other images within the window, including those self-portraits where it was my head, after doing hair and makeup on myself, were taken with Nikon equipment.”

Cameras And Accessories
Mamiya DM33 kit with an 80mm ƒ/2.8 AF D lens and 33-megapixel digital back
Nikon D3X/Nikon D3S
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm ƒ/2.8G ED
AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm ƒ/2.8ED VR II
AF Nikkor 85mm ƒ/1.4D IF
AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm ƒ/2.8 ED
AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm ƒ/2.8G IF-ED
Profoto strobes/Dynalite strobes
Induro tripod and head
Lexar 32 GB 600X memory card
Lexar Professional UDMA FireWire® 800 Reader
Capture One, Leaf Capture and Adobe Camera Raw software
Adobe Photoshop

See more of Lynn Goldsmith’s Looking Glass photos at


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