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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Questionable methods of this photographer (Jill Greenberg)
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04/18/2006 08:11:36 PM · #1
First, check out this link:
Jill Greenberg

Look at her crying children's photography.

Now read this Press Release.

This sparked a discussion on another message board I belong too. Just curious what your thoughts on it are.

I for one am appalled. Making kids upset on purpose for the sake of your art is just wrong, IMO.


04/18/2006 08:16:27 PM · #2
Unbelievably good gallery of shots. The ethics of making kids cry to photograph them? I can see some people making a big deal of it but it's not THAT different from a photographer knowing how to evoke a laugh or a smile. It just sounds meaner.
04/18/2006 08:16:31 PM · #3
Not only do I question that photographers morals and ethics, but also those of the parents of her "models"

I would NEVER allow my child to be manipulated and treated that way for a photo - for anything. You just do NOT emotionally traumatize a child - especially intentionally ! At that age (under 3) a child's emotions are raw enough as is.
04/18/2006 08:17:15 PM · #4
Originally posted by JRalston:

Making kids upset on purpose for the sake of your art is just wrong, IMO.


My gut reaction is to agree with this. It seems wrong.

Message edited by author 2006-04-18 20:27:05.
04/18/2006 08:18:48 PM · #5
Greenberg states, I manipulate my subjects to evoke an emotion to illustrate my personal beliefs.

This says it all.

I think that's ok if the subjects are over 18.

On a different note ... "And I use to much neat image!" LMAO

Message edited by author 2006-04-18 20:21:14.
04/18/2006 08:26:08 PM · #6


i don't see a problem if the parents consent, and as long as she's not beating them into tears, a give'n'take lollipop experiment doesn't sound too traumatic. i bet at the end of the shoot they still get the lolly. and you know how 3 year olds love to cry. her models might be specifically chosen for their ease of tantruming. there's too little information to make judgments on her and her work. i'd rather assume it's NOT horrible ethics.
04/18/2006 08:27:12 PM · #7
Her photography is EXCELLENT and at a level I probably will never achieve. However, that gallery of the kids crying just knocks her off the pedestal.

I consider children's photography my strongest subject when it comes to photography. Almost every photoshoot of kids that age, I take at least one shot of the kid pouting or crying. There is no need for her to deliberately mess with their heads. :( I can't believe the parents were ok with it.

Originally posted by thegrandwazoo:

On a different note ... "And I use to much neat image!" LMAO


So true. LOL
04/18/2006 08:29:27 PM · #8
If kids were made to cry for the photo...then this is really bad. No matter how the shot came out, it is wrong.
04/18/2006 08:39:10 PM · #9
Her work is simply amazing, I would love to get the chance to intern or assist for her. The crying kids dosen't seem like a big deal to me. If its just taking away a lollipop, the kids won't even remember the next day. Far from traumatizing them.
04/18/2006 08:43:59 PM · #10
Without actually knowing her methods in detail, or what goes on behind the scenes, I think the reactions here are a little bit over-blown.

Children are made to cry for scenes in films all the time. Even low-budget indy films where there *aren't* 300 psychologists on hand to 'make it all better', and it's hardly always (or even remotely close to often), traumatizing.

I'd bet boots to dollars that the children are carefully told what is going to happen, what is wanted from them, and then rewarded for their efforts afterwards.

If there was serious abuse going on, *THAT* would be a whole other issue, but with her being such a visible force, I highly doubt anything of that nature is happening in any way shape or form.

Having said all that, it's perfectly understandable to be upset over something like this, when you don't know the full story.
04/18/2006 08:44:01 PM · #11
I don't need to look at kids crying in a gallery, I can see that at home.
04/18/2006 08:46:42 PM · #12
/me trots off to take pics of her own screaming kids and make beau-coup bucks for the prints... ;)
04/18/2006 08:47:25 PM · #13
She is one of my favorite photographers and will remain so. This debate really blew up a few weeks ago and has people calling it unethical and even calling it child pornography and seeking prosecution.

Personally I don't think it's a very big deal to take a lollipop from a kid so that he cries and apparently there are parents that think the same thing too that allowed their kids to be photographed. Now if she was smacking them around a bit... then it may be a different story.

Anyway, her photos are technically amazing and I would love to see her exhibits! Each print 43"x50"!! WOW!

edit to add: Podcast can be found here: Podcast

Message edited by author 2006-04-18 20:50:50.
04/18/2006 08:54:05 PM · #14
JayWalk stated it perfectly............
04/18/2006 08:55:23 PM · #15
The main problem that I have is that she thinks it's worth it to cause another person pain in order to accomplish what she wants. She's not a child pornographer or anything, she's just behaving in a morally questionable manner and making ill-advised use of her extraordinary talent.
04/18/2006 08:59:29 PM · #16
Originally posted by thegrandwazoo:

Greenberg states, I manipulate my subjects to evoke an emotion to illustrate my personal beliefs.

This says it all.


Sounds selfish to me. Make kids cry to get your point across and make money. Nice point!

Or

"I had to learn the hard way that they had to be no older than three because beyond that they just don't cry so easily,"

That is not the type of thing a normal person says.
04/18/2006 09:03:03 PM · #17
I can just see her getting the perfect tear or drool and yelling yes, thats what we are looking for!

I find it a bit disturbing.
04/18/2006 09:04:27 PM · #18
I don't have a problem with her making kids cry by taking away a lollipop. Kids that age cry about stuff for no reason anyway, capitalizing on that is no big deal.

What photographer doesn't manipulate their subject in one way or another?

BTW, I think you're supposed to find it disturbing.

Message edited by author 2006-04-18 21:06:21.
04/18/2006 09:06:31 PM · #19
Originally posted by Riggs:

I can just see her getting the perfect tear or drool and yelling yes, thats what we are looking for!

I find it a bit disturbing.


lol. Perhaps I shouldn't be finding that funny. Actually I agree. I also feel the same way about beauty pageants for little girls made up to look like lifeless dolls...
04/18/2006 09:07:07 PM · #20
OK so lets just examine the situtation for a second. She takes a lollipop away from a kid... that kid cries. After a few minutes that kid is given 2 lollipops and has a huge smile on their face and probably forgetting about the past few minutes!

The crying last a few minutes, but the smile afterwards lasts much longer. Now why just focus on the negative? Why not say that she is a nice person for making the kid smile afterwards???

In the grand scheme of things that child is going to enjoy that picture for the rest of their lives (and the candy for a while after the shoot). It is something that they are going to have with them for their lives and probably will put a smile on their face FAR more times than the few minutes they had to cry for it.

ps. According to Jill, a lot of the time it only takes have one of the kids parents walk out of the room to get them to cry. Definitely not traumatizing by any means.

Message edited by author 2006-04-18 21:08:55.
04/18/2006 09:08:10 PM · #21
As the mom of three kids, I personally would never allow anyone to do that to my 3 year old. Don't tell me they don't remember it either, heck I got a 13 year old that can tell you about petty crap that happened when she was 3, certain things do stick. I have a shot of James, my then 2 year old crying in my portfolio, he was in a time out and boy was he mad but when I turned to check back on him, the pose, the look, I couldn't resist.

But her stuff, the kids, very distrubing and that is what she was going for, she succeeded. I don't really think the subject matter she attached to them is right, these kids haven't a clue what the end of the world means to them, heck not letting James watch Wonderpets would feel like the end of the world to him.

Deannda
Sorry, don't like the methods
04/18/2006 09:09:05 PM · #22
Originally posted by JayWalk:

Now why just focus on the negative?


You should ask her that.
04/18/2006 09:11:00 PM · #23
Wow it is disturbing from my point of view, probably because I have young children.
04/18/2006 09:13:11 PM · #24
I have five kids - they are all teenagers now - but these images break my heart. I found it hard to get through the whole gallery - before I read the press release.

Now that I know how the images are accomplished - it actually makes me smile - it's a trip down memory lane. Kids that age are so cool, but boy can they blow up over NOTHING.

We had one that would do that for three hours because she couldn't wear her favorite shirt the 11 day in a row (it had to be washed SOMETIME). Maybe a paid photo shoot of the tantrum would have made it easier at the time...

Now trying to tie all this to some political thing seems the big stretch for me.

Considering the trauma that is awaiting these kids as they negotiate the public school system, a lolipop delayed seems ingsignificant to say the least.

From the parents point of view, what's one more tantrum? Especially one that can be so easily shut down?

I would be very intetested in how the screening process for these kids works - how would you determine a strong willed kid that's going to blow up over candy?

Message edited by author 2006-04-18 21:14:32.
04/18/2006 09:16:15 PM · #25
Originally posted by JayWalk:

OK so lets just examine the situtation for a second. She takes a lollipop away from a kid... that kid cries. After a few minutes that kid is given 2 lollipops and has a huge smile on their face and probably forgetting about the past few minutes!

The crying last a few minutes, but the smile afterwards lasts much longer. Now why just focus on the negative? Why not say that she is a nice person for making the kid smile afterwards???

In the grand scheme of things that child is going to enjoy that picture for the rest of their lives (and the candy for a while after the shoot). It is something that they are going to have with them for their lives and probably will put a smile on their face FAR more times than the few minutes they had to cry for it.

ps. According to Jill, a lot of the time it only takes have one of the kids parents walk out of the room to get them to cry. Definitely not traumatizing by any means.


Okay, I just ran this by my 13 year old and 10 year old, asking them if they would be proud to a part of this "great display" and if I had let the photographer do this to them when they were younger and then years later pulled this out, would they be okay with it?

The answer from both of them? "NO! I WOULD BE PISSED!" And if walking out of the room upset my 3 year old that much, trust me when I say they will remember this incident years later. Sorry, still a no go. These kids are going to be hating their parents later.

Deannda
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