During the High Holy Days, we speak of “being inscribed in the Book of Life.” Atlanta dentist and photographer Ronald Goldstein has poured decades of passion for images into a moving, 165-page book, “About Life: A Photographer’s Story.”
The book spans far-off lands, animals and humanity in all its forms, inspiring introspection.
“The unfortunate among us are not invisible to me,” Goldstein says. “They are part of the universal scheme of life and my photographs are my way of acknowledging these individuals, whether they are in Thailand, Greece or New York City.”
Taken over the past 60 years, the photographs in “About Life” were carefully whittled down from hundreds of thousands to 3,000, then to just 1,000. Finally, Goldstein met with his team — wife, Judy, Jiffy Page at Pixorium and Rick Robbins of Simple Design Works — to make the final 200 selections for the book. Goldstein mused that he needed a team because he was so attached to his photo archive.
On turning from dentistry to photography, Goldstein mused, “From early on I have always been curious about all aspects of life. Observing people and animals and what they do with a focus on their emotive facial expressions. I also photograph the beauty of colors and the dichotomies of life. That led me to divide the sections of the book into many of these same classifications. So it’s part of my story to capture and record virtually all things that fascinate me.”
Goldstein’s worldwide reputation as a dental expert found him traveling to exotic locales. “I was fortunate enough to travel the world through my lecturing and observed so many different cultures,” he said.
Still practicing dentistry in his late 80s, Goldstein is known for his skill and esthetic smile transformations. “The goal there is producing a result that exceeds the patients’ expectations … the difference is in the details. It’s the same with photography … not just capturing a posed happening, but being in a good position and waiting for the right moment.”
Today, anyone has universal access to the “art” of photography on their cell phones, but Goldstein started photographing people with a small Kodak “Brownie” camera. “Digital photography has revolutionized the playing field,” he admitted. “I have taken some of my best photos with my iPhone because it’s always around, making it easy to capture the moment. But most of my photos were taken with a Nikon camera plus a powerful telephoto lens.”
Some of the book’s highlights include a black-and-white photo of a young boy in Haiti hiding behind a wall and an image of an extra-long flatbed truck carrying only a small tricycle down the highway. The most fun to shoot? The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador where animals pose naturally, Goldstein says. Most thrilling location? Iguazu Falls between Brazil and Argentina, with 275 falls and a new setting every 25 feet — a photographer’s dream.
But the book was never meant to be sold. Instead, Goldstein donated 250 copies to a charity he started 13 years ago, Tomorrow’s Smiles, which has made it possible for needy teens across the country to receive critical, life-changing dental surgery.
You can get the book by donating $350 to Tomorrow’s Smiles or $500 for an autographed copy at AmericansToothFairy.org/Goldstein.
- Arts and Culture
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- High Holy Days
- Book of Life
- Ronald Goldstein
- About Life
- Judy Goldstein
- Jiffy Page
- Rick Robbins
- Simple Design Works
- Brownie camera
- Iguazu Falls
- Galapagos Islands
- Tomorrow's Smiles