Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Jill Greenberg - The Look Of Greenberg
Dubbed 'The Manipulator,' photographer Jill Greenberg won't let technology dictate her distinctive style
Although Greenberg's photographic style might conjure up a vision of a studio packed with elaborate lighting setups, she actually does a lot of her work with natural light and only slight augmentations.
She enjoys the editorial work that comes her way because she usually has more control over the look and concept of the image. Says Greenberg, “It's a fair trade-off because editorial doesn't pay as much, so I'm left to create my own vision. I feel happy that the look of the work is really coming from me.”
When the advertising gigs arise, Greenberg is more than willing to serve the needs of the company or art director's concept. “There have been marketing and focus tests done way before the concept of an ad is created to get a sense of what people react to, and I have no problem following my guidelines,” she says. “Not to mention the pay for advertising is so much higher than editorial so I feel well compensated.”
Monkeying Around And Going To The Dogs
An interesting addition to Greenberg's résumé is a personal project that she has been working on for a few years. “I did an advertising shoot that had a monkey in it and I was so taken by him that I decided last minute to do a portrait of him,” she recalls. Little did she know this one experience would set in motion what's now an ongoing project of monkey and orangutan portraits.
The photographs have been well received by many people, including Paul Kopeikin of the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, who showed the work for two months in late 2004. A book is scheduled to be published by Bulfinch Publishing with a release date of September 2006. The Kopeikin Gallery has already booked another show for the same time and Greenberg is continuing the work.
“I just photographed five more monkeys in Miami recently and I have a lot more to do before the book goes to print,” says Greenberg.
When asked who's her favorite monkey, Greenberg grapples with the choice. “It used to be Josh,” she says. “Josh is a Celebes macaque and has a great personality, but then there's this older orangutan that I recently photographed, and there have been others. It's becoming hard to pick a favorite—they're all amazing.”
After seeing the monkey project, it's obvious why Los Angeles Magazine chose Greenberg for its issue featuring dog care and culture. “That shooting day was crazy,” Greenberg recalls. “The dogs were all trained and well behaved, but they're still dogs, and it became a long, exhausting day in which I wasn't even able to shoot my own pooch, Scooter.”
Greenberg's mutt, Scooter, can be attributed to the reason she moved to Los Angeles initially. Says Greenberg, “I got Scooter in September 2000, and by the winter months, I was dreading the cold walks with him. As it happened, my floors were being redone in my Manhattan studio, so I figured I would spend the two months in L.A. with Scooter.”
Delighting in the 60-degree weather of a Los Angeles winter, Greenberg packed up her studio and moved out her two employees a few months later. She still owns her Manhattan studio and has a permanent tenant renting the space. Unsure of whether to sell or not, she's definitely settled on the decision that Southern California is her home.
In addition to her thriving business, Greenberg has managed to fit in a family life. She and her husband have welcomed a newborn son, who joins a two-year-old sister. Says Greenberg, “It's not easy. At my agency, Art Mix, I'm the only woman photographer with kids, which says a lot about the workload we photographers wrestle with, so it can be a challenge to make it all happen.”
With so much going on in her personal life, you'd think a break was on the horizon. Not true. Having just photographed Lisa Marie Presley for Interview and with future shoots set up for the ongoing monkey project as well as various advertising gigs, Jill Greenberg has managed to manipulate her schedule as well as her work.
To see more of Jill Greenberg's photography, visit www.manipulator.com.
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