Photographer Dina Goldstein discusses her mesmerizing series, which depicts pop culture’s most famous princesses’ lives—without the fairytale ending.

What if your favorite Disney princess didn’t live happily ever after?

That’s what Dina Goldstein is curious about. In her gripping photo series Fallen Princesses, the photographer envisions how Disney’s most celebrated females' lives would have played out in the real world.

She began shooting the series in 2007. Goldstein, who is in her 40s and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been a photographer for 20 years, and her work has appeared in Elle, Marie Claire, and a host of Canadian and European publications.

“My daughter was very small and getting into the whole Disney princesses culture, and at the same time my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (she’s totally fine now),” says Goldstein. “I started to think: what if these princesses had to deal with cancer, or financial discourse, or any of the real-life problems people have to go through?”

It took her about two years to finish the project, and in 2009, the Fallen Princesses series was almost adapted into a TV show.

“We were in talks for a Fallen Princesses show with the director of I Am Sam [Jessie Nelson] out in L.A., and we were actually offered a TV series—before all the dark fairy-tale movies came out—by Imagine Entertainment. Unfortunately, the directors were filmmakers and weren’t comfortable doing a TV show, so they turned down the TV series in 2009.”

Goldstein spoke about the inspiration behind each of her images in the Fallen Princesses series.

1. Ariel

Photographer: Dina Goldstein

“Here, we have Ariel, who, because she’s so unique and beautiful, has been captured and put on display in an aquarium. We tend to capture beautiful things and use them for our pleasure, and that was really the idea for the shot—the human inclination toward using beautiful creatures for our own entertainment. This project was created with no budget, so I had to do what I had to do to make a picture come together. What I did is I shot the tank separately, photographed Ariel in studio with a green screen, and then we composited the two together.”

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