After a very successful career in Moscow, working for 16 years at various glossy magazines like Cosmopolitan and Marie Clarie, Dina Johnsen had to leave it all behind. Her husband had received an exciting job offer in Serbia and so, Johnsen took this as a sign to start something new. Wanting to reinvent herself, she decided that she would become a photographer and knew one thing for sure, that for her first project she wanted to “do something big.”
“I decided to make a photo book about the biggest theatre in the region,” she tells us when we asked what happened next. “So I went to meet the director of the National Theatre in Belgrade and suggested this project. He happily accepted my offer. I found a sponsor, built up a team and started shooting in May 2011. In November 2011, I launched my book on the scene of the National Theatre. Sounds amazing but we did it so incredibly fast. It was really beautiful to work with all these stars. They were lovely, inspiring people.”
The Unseen Beauty is a beautiful photo book that gives us an inside look into what goes on behind the scenes of The National Theatre in Belgrade, from the acting (or drama), opera and orchestra to, my favorite, the ballet. Founded in 1868, The National Theatre in Belgrade is one of the oldest and most important cultural institutions in Serbia.
When asked what it was like taking those breathtaking ballerina shots, Johnsen told us this, “It was not difficult at all. Ballet dancers are like sportsmen, they can do whatever you need for the photo. They are fit, flexible, hard working and very beautiful. So, it was always a pleasure to work with them.
“The main thing was to actually make their portraits, to show how gracious and glamorous they are. Most of them did not have their professional photos taken for many years and I wanted to correct this mistake. I felt so good seeing how happy they were when they saw The Unseen Beauty book. I still get very emotional when I think about it.”
If you’d like to learn more about this project, make sure to watch this inspiring video. For those interested in purchasing the book, sadly, it’s not for sale. It was printed with a circulation of 2,000 and was meant as a gift to The National Theatre in Belgrade. However, if you’d like to purchase individual photos, you may contact Johnsen directly.