DPP Home Profiles Lauren Greenfield - The Most Personal Is The Most Universal

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lauren Greenfield - The Most Personal Is The Most Universal

One of The VII Agency's founding photographers, Lauren Greenfield's images take us through the looking glass and delve into complex social issues

Simple expediency also drives her to shun postproduction work. It simply takes too much time that Greenfield would prefer to be spending taking pictures.

“I shoot a lot and I really don't have time for a lot of postproduction,” she says. “Although I'm shooting all digital, I have a largely transparency film-based workflow.”

That is, once Greenfield has pressed the shutter button, she's largely done with the image.

Although one of the world's top photojournalists and a founding member of a premier photojournalism agency, Greenfield once thought of photography as more of a step along a career path rather than a viable option in and of itself.

“At Harvard, I was studying sociology and that's when photography went from fun to meaningful,” she recalls. “I took a year and traveled around the world studying film and anthropology. When I got back, I changed my major to visual studies. After graduating, I wanted to make films, but I kept getting rejected. Then I got the internship at National Geographic and that changed my life. I really hadn't respected photography because it always had come somewhat easy to me. It took me a long time and considerable prodding to learn to take the path of least resistance because that path allowed me to do some special things.”

When she's talking about the path of least resistance, it's not because Greenfield is at all lazy. On the contrary, by pursuing photography, she has taken something at which she excels and can follow her heart.

“Following your heart sounds simple, but it's really what works,” she says. “My personal work leads to crossover work and commercial work.”

Producing Girl Culture was a five-year process. During that period, Greenfield was doing plenty of assignments and booking commercial jobs. She made time for doing personal work during those engagements as well as downtime. The project took time to coalesce in her mind. It has been a highly personal journey for Greenfield, but the response has gone far beyond what she had imagined and far beyond the photo community.

“In Minneapolis, they made Girl Culture Week when the show event went there,” says Greenfield. “The comment book reads like a diary and many of the comments were actually addressed to me. I'm not trying to change the world in the way previous generations of photojournalists have. I'm doing this because it's personal.”

It has been said that what's most personal is ultimately most universal. In terms of Lauren Greenfield's work, a truer maxim doesn't exist.

To see more of Lauren Greenfield's photography, visit www.laurengreenfield.com; the www.girlculture.com Website is currently under construction.



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