Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Jill Greenberg - The Look Of Greenberg
Dubbed 'The Manipulator,' photographer Jill Greenberg won't let technology dictate her distinctive style
“When I'm shooting the ‘shiny' work, the lighting is so specific as far as direction goes that there isn't a lot of free movement,” she says. “I'm going for a certain technical look so the direction I give is precise and the challenge is to pull it off without it looking stiff.”
One way Greenberg accomplishes this is by hiring a DJ for the day to spin records. “This really helps to loosen people up,” she says. “Making the subjects feel comfortable is important so I try to create a fun atmosphere.”
Continuing to incorporate a forward-thinking philosophy, Greenberg still shoots the shiny stuff when requested; as a professional photographer who knows how fickle the design world can be, however, she's forging ahead. Says Greenberg, “I've been trying different stuff lately just to change things up a bit.”
What's The Trick?
Although lighting, makeup, music and concept all contribute to the final output, one wonders if there's some secret Photoshop trick Greenberg has up her sleeve. Her images are sharp and saturated, stunning and quirky, soaked with realism and imagination. Consistency abounds, and whatever steps she takes to get there, she has got it down.
Debunking the mystery, “It's really not a big secret,” she claims. “I use a lot of masking, apply color curves, dodge and burn. It's all done by hand, like painting. My background being illustration, I still draw and paint because I enjoy it, so my digital manipulations are just a derivative of those techniques.”
Assisting her is a full-time staff member who performs the necessary digital work, such as drum scanning with an ICG (Itek Colour Graphics) drum scanner, creating composites and keeping the image library in order. When the initial prep work is done on a file, Greenberg gets her hands on it, performing beauty retouching as well as those other signature, self-taught manipulation techniques.
For the majority of the jobs for which she's hired, the images are all Greenberg. The files are handed over, print-ready, to be dropped in an ad or an editorial layout.
“I've turned over work in the past without doing the manipulation myself and have been disappointed in the outcome,” she says. “I'm willing to work with clients, but I do prefer to have control from start to finish if possible.”
Is It Film Or Is It Digital?
Although most of her workflow includes the use of digital technology, Greenberg is still dedicated to the use of film for capture. “I have to say my favorite piece of equipment is my film camera,” she admits. “I'm really not fully ready to let go of film yet and I personally don't see the same results when I shoot digitally as I do with film. I'm happy with my process right now and I don't want the technology to dictate the way I shoot.”
This isn't to say she's adverse to the technology. “I won't not use it,” Greenberg continues. “If I have a job with a tight deadline and the request is to shoot it with a Leaf back, I have no problem adhering to the client's needs.”
With a client list made up of Time, Stuff, Wired, TV Guide, Beefeater, Bacardi, RCA and Target, and a celebrity portfolio that includes Tom Cruise, Christina Applegate, Clint Eastwood, Will Smith, Glenn Close and the entire casts of “Deadwood,” “CSI” and “The OC,” Greenberg is proving to be one of today's most sought-after photographers.
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