Passion Pursued – An Interview With Camera Maker Dora Goodman
Ever since we saw the camera work of Dora Goodman a few months back, we've been meaning to get her on the Magazine for an interview. Now that we did, we can't help but grin as we look at her work and read what she has to say. Dora is the perfect example for the saying “Follow your heart.” She left her career in 3d animated graphics to take up camera making and boy are we glad that she did! All of her cameras are carefully built, purposely designed, and beautiful in form. Learn more about her and her work in this short interview and who knows, you might just get bitten by the camera craft bug.
Disclaimer: Lomography Magazine will not be responsible for the major GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) that you are about to experience.
Hello, Dora. Welcome to the Lomography Online Magazine! How did you get started on your career as a camera maker?
Hi, everyone, thank you so much for your kind invite. I’m really excited and happy to be featured in the Lomography Online Magazine. I have always both loved and have been interested in photography and the possibility to capture the world surrounding us. This has been mixed with a taste for everlasting designs — something that is characterized by the style and approach of early analogue cameras. What I have always been truly fascinated by were the classical shapes of these creations.
The truth is that there is a rich palette of truly unique cameras, and the way I see my career is just simply trying to add a tiny bit of my taste to each piece I lay my hands on.
What made you pursue this line of work?
With trends popping their heads up every month, season or year, I think it is rather difficult to leave a mark in the world nowadays. Analogue photography however will always be surrounded by respect, an immeasurable value in a world, however modern. The real dream and what keeps me going would be to leave a Dora Goodman mark in the stage of analogue cameras.
How long have you been doing it?
I have been redesigning cameras using wood solely as a hobby for years now, and have one evening decided to gather up my favorite ones and upload them to an Instagram account I have created. The reason behind this decision was to have all my favorite pieces in one stack, and to share them with people with similar interests — however to be honest I had not thought of selling either of them.
Up until the past year or so I have been keeping them all to myself but after seeing the vast number of analog enthusiasts reaching out, and the possibility to spread what I love doing, I have slowly started to give in. I am now in such a lucky situation — having reached this stage that I can work with and get help from other talents I’m surrounded with, slowly allowing us to respond to inquiries and even come up with new ideas and projects together.
What's your favorite thing about it?
My first and very favorite thing about it was the realization of how many people are equally passionate about analogue photography, and to find such a huge community that may in a way be inspired by what I do.
Your cameras are just gorgeous analogue pieces. The fine wood grain, good glass, and metal really blend well together. What's your favorite creation so far?
It is really difficult to choose a specific camera that was my favorite so far, as all of them are unique in various ways — some due to their shape, some due to the pattern used. What I love about them all, is that once having finished working on a piece, they all end up somewhere they’re valued. Since each camera is hand finished, it is quite impossible to make two identical designs.
Talk us through your process. How long does it take to build a Dora Goodman camera?
There are two approaches to this question actually. From one side there are the cameras that I either purchase/receive from the owner, and redesign it by the unique addition of the wooden layers, and then there are the cameras that I work on with several talents, and are built/designed from scratch. When working on customizing an existing camera, it pretty much depends on the design and complexity of the customization - it can range between one workday and pretty much un-trackable amount of workdays. :)
The Goodman One camera that is part of a new “movement” where I collaborate with several talents and come up with ideas and designs together, has for example taken almost a year. Since it is an open source camera, who knows where the end design will evolve.
How does it feel to be able to make beautiful and functional pieces that people appreciate?
I can not and would not lie, so this is obviously the biggest reward. :)
What are the challenges that come with being a custom camera maker? We're sure there are more than a few.
The biggest challenge is finding enough time for everything. Up until the second half of last year I was actually working at a leading company specializing in the production of 3d animated game cinematics CGI. It was obviously a little difficult to find a balance between the two. I have finally decided to take a leap and focus solely on my passion — on building cameras, designing straps and coming up with innovations. The funny situation is, that I have thought that I will finally have enough time for all these, but have once more found out that 24 hours a day is just not enough. :)
We also learned that you also make camera accessories like straps. What's your design inspiration for your work?
I like to keep in mind to design and sell straps that I would use and wear. Once focusing on this aspect, I would not say that there is any specific inspiration for my work. Beside the aesthetic factor of the highest quality elements such as leather, or ie. high-tensile thread, I also put as much effort as humanly possible to design straps that are super durable to even carry larger and heavier cameras.
Finally, I have always focused on following a certain look/characteristic allowing people to be able to identify a certain strap with the Dora Goodman brand without seeing the branding/logo itself.
Any advice for people who are looking to pursue camera making as a hobby or career?
Try not to build your workshop at home, since the process is much messier than you could ever imagine. :)
What are your other interests aside from camera making?
Having lived here and there for the first 12 years of my life, travelling has somehow sunk deep inside of me, so whenever I can find time I love to explore new countries and cultures. I spent two months in Asia last summer, and truly hope to be able to revisit that area in the near future, as I consider this the greatest inspiration for my creative process.
How does a perfect day look like for Dora Goodman?
Wondering around a place I have not yet explored, accompanied by a couple of my favorite cameras.
Lastly, do you have new projects lined up? Please invite our readers.
My biggest and newest project lined up is giving birth to my daughter, any minute now. :) I have put a lot of effort into putting together a group of talents that could take an active part in the Dora Goodman brand while I may be a little occupied for the first couple of months. Doing what I do is just too great of a passion to put on hold, however while doing my best to remain as an active part as possible, I will definitely need a certain amount of input from these people in order to continuously come up with new designs, innovations and ideas.
Pretty soon, beside the currently and newly available Goodman One open source camera, we’re looking to launch various 3D printable items such as a very special DOF adapter for smartphones as well as possibly a highly modular leather bag that you can easily DIY with no special tools required. Finally, we have been working on an amazing pinhole camera for almost a year now, so hopefully this should soon be available as well. Obviously, there are a couple of further projects lined up too, but these details will be available in the right time. :)
We would like to thank Dora for letting us feature her work on the Magazine. If you're interested in her cameras and other creations, you may head over to her website and Instagram for more.