Friday, 22 March 2013

Jill Greenberg

LECTURE: 22/03/2013

Jill Greenberg

Series: End Times, Los Angeles, 2006
End Times in Exhibition
  • Harsh tones
  • Contrast
  • Halo effect (light)
  • Side and front lighting (ring flash, 2 side lights [reflective silver umbrellas])
  • Photoshopped background

Images Source:

“End Times”, a politically charged photography exhibition by internationally acclaimed contemporary photographer Jill Greenberg, has been extended. The new dates are April 22nd through July 8th, 2006. A catalogue from the show is available. The work can easily be viewed at or
Following her enormously successful series 'Monkey Portraits', which debuted in October 2004, Jill Greenberg’s new work takes a more serious turn and has already hit a national nerve . "End Times" combines beautiful, poignant imagery, impeccably executed, with both political and personal relevance. Greenberg’s subject is taboo: children in pain. She utilizes this uncomfortable image as a way to break through to the pop mainstream and begin a national dialogue. Jill Greenberg's images are sharp and saturated, stunning and quirky; her work is soaked with realism and imagination.
Bill Moyer’s article “There is No Tomorrow” more than touches on Mrs. Greenberg’s subject matter. In the article he states the amazing statistics: “For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.
One-third of the American electorate, if a recent Gallup Poll is accurate, believes the Bible is literally true. This past November, several million good and decent citizens went to the polls believing in what is known as the "rapture index."
These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the 19th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative that has captivated the imagination of millions of Americans. Its outline is rather simple, if bizarre: Once Israel has occupied the rest of its "bibli-cal lands," legions of the Antichrist will attack it, triggering a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. As the Jews who have not been converted are burned, the messiah will return for the rapture.
That is why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelations, where four angels "which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of man." For them a war with Islam in the Middle East is something to be welcomed - an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The rapture index - "the prophetic speedometer of end-time activity" - now stands at 153."
Jill Greenberg explains, “The children I photographed were not harmed in any way. And, as a mother, I am quite aware of how easily toddlers can cry. Storms of grief sweep across their features without warning; a joyful smile can dissolve into a grimace of despair. The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset. It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation. The most dangerous fundamentalists aren’t just waging war in Iraq; they’re attacking evolution, blocking medical research and ignoring the environment. It’s as if they believe the apocalyptic End Time is near, therefore protecting the earth and future of our children is futile. As a parent I have to reckon with the knowledge that our children will suffer for the mistakes our government is making. Their pain is a precursor of what is to come.” (1)

Series: Monkey Portraits, Los Angeles, CA, 2004
Monkey Portraits Exhibition
Insight into the Artist's Work

CJ's Interpretation:
  • Use of animals (wild animals, such as the pin-up monkey)
  • Why does she photograph it?
  • Unethical engagement with animals
  • Animal is clearly distressed but she continues to take numerous photographs


Image Source:

"For the series “Monkey Portraits”, Greenberg has created a series of monkey portraits and asks us to consider, in another way, where we are coming from. We look into her monkey’s expressions, their faces --their peculiar physiognomy -- and somehow see ourselves. It is frightening and disorienting and exhilarating and awesome. She mischievously shows us another type of mirror-stage, where we confront an ancient and distorted reflection, another startling spectacle, and try to make sense of who, or what we are seeing. By intentionally anthropomorphizing her monkeys, we can’t help but identify with their gaze, and be reminded of people we know, expressions that we have seen before." (3)

Information Sources:

Photography Tip:
***F16 is the correct exposure 

Further Research:

She is renouned for her portraits, with a ”distinctive etheral backlighting." (
Greenberg herself has stated that she uses digital post production, which has earned her the nickname "The Manipulator."

Her series End Times gathered controversy, as the photographs depict children in various types of distress. It was not the photos themselves but the way she distressed the children, giving them candy and taking it away.

I found a Youtube video which teaches you how to produce the Jill Greenberg effect in Adobe Photoshop:

When researching Jill’s work one of her key factors for her success is pushing boundaries, by creating controversial debates creates notoriety and this gets your artwork exposure... make an artistic statement.

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