Daniel Gohstand —ImageSails’ Founder/CEO/Creative Director, Photographer, and Artist— grew up in a multicultural Armenian and Russian-Jewish family in San Francisco, California. At the early age of eight, Gohstand began to follow in the footsteps of his mother and grandfather, who were both accomplished artists. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Photojournalism, where he also rigorously studied music. Today, he is a renowned as an entrepreneur for his ingenuity with ImageSails, as well as continuing his work as a professional photographer, drummer, and lecturer.
Gohstand began his professional work using both black and white and color film photography. Although naturally working with digital for years, his solid formation in the unforgiving art of film and print has given him a technical understanding of format and balance, a keen intuition for capturing feeling within beautiful composition, and a commitment to avoid digital alteration. In short, Gohstand is renowned for his ability to capture powerful glimpses into the human soul.
His work as a photographer has taken Gohstand around the world, and given him unique insight into different cultures. Bilingual English/Spanish, his explorations of Latin America have been focused on the Central American region, where Gohstand has spent years creating. He currently maintains a studio in Antigua, Guatemala, where he has deeply documented their unique culture. According to Gohstand, it is through the art of photography that he is given the possibility of discovering and experiencing more deeply–the ability to focus on humanity intently. To capture a moment through his lens provides a deep and moving experience that is more meaningful than simply observing. It is this experience he seeks to share with others.
As part of his work in Guatemala, Gohstand began to photograph the villages around Antigua, particularly Santa María de Jesús, located on the slopes of Volcán de Agua, about 10 kilometers from Antigua. It was here that he began to photograph the ceremonies of rural Guatemala, such as Semana Santa (Holy Week), where the syncretized religions of Catholicism and Indigenous traditions meld to form a unique tradition displayed in an unequaled array of color. With a population of about 20,000 Indigenous people who speak Cakchiquel as a first language, along with Spanish, Santa María de Jesús has a documented existence dating back to the Sixteenth Century, with a church and buildings from the Seventeenth Century surrounding a traditional plaza. It was also here in this village that Gohstand’s work took an unexpected path.
Gohstand had always wanted to convey deep emotion, and amidst the vibrant colors of the Guatemalan Indigenous traditions he was shooting, a stark reality evident in his photographs was a desperate need for a response to the community’s poverty. In memory of Gohstand’s mother, Faith, who he says will always remain his greatest artistic and spiritual inspiration, he was inspired to give back to the community through his art. He focused his efforts on the need for health care in the town he had come to love, and founded his project, Doctors for Santa María de Jesús.
Through this initiative, part of the proceeds from ImageSails and other of Gohstand’s projects are donated to bring medical attention to the community of Santa María de Jesús. He has managed to enlist others as well, and currently has raised enough to remodel a building for use as a health clinic and community center, and help sponsor ongoing visits from health care professionals from different parts of the world. Gohstand is excited about the prospect of bringing further aid to the community as ImageSails continues to thrive, having found a way to honor the people who have provided him the opportunity to create his beautiful and fascinating art.
Gohstand’s art is available through his websites, and via international galleries from the Americas to Asia. Some exhibits include the projection of his work onto a huge fabric screen he constructed and dubbed the Ginormotron, which is draped outdoors over local monuments. One evening, during an outdoor exhibition in Santa María de Jesús, strong winds gave constant motion to Gohstand’s photos and brought the imagery to life, inspiring him to begin printing his images on diaphanous silks, and later giving rise to ImageSails, the world’s first high-performance printed sails for art and advertising. His grandest project to-date, the concept continues to enthrall viewers around the globe, as the business continues to grow exponentially.