Friday, September 12, 2008

UPDATED: Jill Greenberg: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Jill Greenberg makes some pretty interesting pictures, to be sure. Yet, if she wanted to commit professional suicide by slamming her clients, she should have just kept mum. In the David Walker's PDN Piece How Jill Greenberg Really Feels About John McCain (9/12/08), Greenburg is reported by PDN to have "rubbed her hands with glee" at the prospect of a portrait session of John McCain, since she's a hardcore Democrat.

Greenberg followed the "one for thee, one for me" approach, shooting her trademark style (see cover above), and then setting up (literally) McCain in another lighting setup (see the PDN piece for that image). PDN quotes her as saying
"He had no idea he was being lit from below,” Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. “I guess they’re not very sophisticated,” she adds.
I say "Damn, she's not very bright to be admitting that. Good luck with your future high-profile portrait subjects who will now look at you with skeptical and critical eyes, Democrat OR Republican, since you're bringing your agenda to the shoots you do."

Here's where I bristled at what she had to say:
(Continued after the Jump)

Given her strong feelings about John McCain, we asked whether she had any reservations about taking the assignment in the first place...“I didn’t,” she says. ...Some of my artwork has been pretty anti-Bush, so maybe it was somewhat irresponsible for them [The Atlantic] to hire me.”
Really? Are you really that dense that you would call your client "irresponsible"? What were you thinking? Surely, not that the Atlantic, or that art director wherever they end up, or other art directors who will be concerned about the activist approach you bring to your work, will hire you again.

Next time, you might want to follow the "engage brain, THEN engage mouth" approach. Oh, and good luck on that audit.

Greenberg's client has weighed in (via the New York Post):
"We stand by the picture we are running on our cover," said Atlantic editor James Bennet. "We feel it's a respectful portrait. We hope we'll be judged by that picture."

But Bennet was appalled by Greenberg saying she tried to portray McCain in an unflattering way.

"We feel totally blind-sided," he said. "Her behavior is outrageous. Incredibly unprofessional."
More images and commentary: Out-Takes: Behind The Atlantic's McCain Cover

The author of the story weighs in here:
"I don't know Greenberg (I count this as a blessing) and I can add nothing to what James Bennet told the Post except to say that Greenberg is quite obviously an indecent person who should not be working in magazine journalism. Every so often, journalists become deranged at the sight of certain candidates, and lose their bearings. Why, this has even happened in the case of John McCain once or twice. What I find truly astonishing is the blithe way in which she has tried to hurt this magazine."
And the PR Agency for the magazine issued yet another statement by the editor:
We were not aware of the manipulated and dishonest images Jill Greenberg had taken until this past Friday.

When we contract with photographers for portraits, we don't vet them for their politics--instead, we assess their professional track records. Based on the portraits she had done of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger and her work for publications like Time, Wired, and Portfolio, we expected Jill Greenberg, like the other photographers we work with, to behave professionally.

Jill Greenberg has obviously not done that. She has, in fact, disgraced herself, and we are appalled by the manipulated images she has created for her Web site of John McCain.”

RELATED: On Jill Greenberg - "I don’t think what she did was wrong"

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