Creating the Photograph: Ronen Goldman’s “Master Magician”


Creating the Photograph is an original series where photographers teach you about how they concepted an image, shot it, and edited it. The series has a heavy emphasis on teaching readers how to light. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Ronen Goldman is a photographer that specializes in the surreal. We’ve interviewed Ronen before here on the site, and many of you genuinely loved his images and ideas. Based in Tel Aviv, the photographer works to create images with a dream-like vibe to them. It has resulted in a series that he’s been creating called “The Surrealistic Pillow Project.”

In fact, he’s been working on it for eight years. And here’s how he created one of his favorite images.


The Concept

As part of my personal series “The Surrealistic Pillow Project” I wanted to create an image of a mysterious magician standing in the woods, creating something fantastic which seems like only he is witnessing.

I also wanted it to look as realistic as possible.

The Gear

The Shoot

Back plate

The image was shot at f7.1 with a shutter speed of 1\125 and a sensitivity of ISO 640.

Magician lit

We set out to do the shoot, the plan was to first shoot the magician doing his throwing motion using two umbrellas- one to light the top of this hat and one from below to light his body, hand and the visible part of his face.


After doing that, I got a “plate” of the scene- a Photo of the woods with a good exposure with nothing in it except for the trees. We then proceeded to hold each card in its place. The magician himself helped me out(a friend of mine named Dvir) while my assistant(Itai) directed us how to move in order to create a perfect spiral.

Holding cards1

The whole cards process took about an two hours to do perfectly.

Holding cards3_Ronen In Frame

When we were done I got back home and saw the results- it seems the a dial got turned while we were doing the cards, and they were all underexposed.

It was quite disheartening. I knew this was an image worth fighting for, so I assembled the team again, and we did the whole thing from the start the following day.


Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.