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Monday, 15 September 2008

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A remarkably juvenile and unprofessional act. Greenberg does have a rep for being self-absorbed and self-important but this still surprises me, given her lengthy and broad experience.

Clearly, given her apparently irrepressible political emotions the right thing for her to do would have been to simply decline the assignment rather than pee on an important client who trusted her.

In any line of business trust is the most valuable asset to earn and darn near impossible to recover once it's ruined. What a silly woman.

I agree that this is unprofessional conduct, but The Atlantic should have known what they were getting into, given Greenberg's previous work. I think it is fallout from hiring someone known for their fine art work for an editorial assignment, which is all the rage these days.

Long ago I took an event gig for the local Republicans, where Henry Kissinger was to be photographed with various big donors. I took the assignment because I needed the money, and justified it by telling myself, hey, I've never photographed a war criminal before. I kept my views to myself and delivered the job, but it left such a nasty taste in my mouth afterwards that I vowed to not debase myself that way again. It's basic behavior as a professional--your views are beside the point, and if that's a problem, don't take the job. That's how I learned it.

I don't know what is more incompetent, her attitude toward her professional responsibility of her attempt at political commentary.... both are childish and embarrasing. The cover looks high-level good, and McCain is just giving it to her. Kids... whataya gonna do?

When I first read about this, I thought to myself: this is so wrong.

But after some thinking I totally changed my opinion.

Photography, especially editorial photography is an interpretation of reality, not the reality itself.

How is it good that you make someone look more heroic than he is, but it is bad to make him more sinister than he is?

I would consider it more dishonest, that Greenberg did just do the thing asked, but totally put away her views.

Arnold Newman created a chilling portrait of Alfried Krupp for Newsweek Magazine in 1963 that features harsh sidelighting similar to Greenberg's "sinister" McCain portrait. (Go to the Arnold Newman Archive to see this and other color photos taken by the photographer, arnoldnewmanarchive.com.) Krupp's family business was steel, for which they employed slave laborers to manufacture armaments for Hitler's Third Reich…Newman, in taking the photo, said he felt the man's malevolence and so depicted him in that light…an artistic interpretation.

Greenberg's harsh depictions of McCain fall woefully short of Newman's Krupp picture because she has chosen to rely on Photoshop, instead of insight, to administer her artistic and visual opinions. Given her Web site's name, manipulator, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by gimmicks? And remember, this is the lady who made babies cry and called it art.

As to whether she has dirtied the water for her working peers, that remains for them to judge, but at the least her actions will add to the media-bashing coming from the Right at a time when we can't afford distractions.

Agreed. Whether you agree with his politics or not, this was an egregious breach of professional decorum aimed at furthering her own means rather than simply abiding by the trust The Atlantic placed in her. The question I have is what was her motive? Personal gain? Political statement as an artist? Well Ms. Greenberg, if it was politically motivated, you can say what you want, but please be honorable to the profession and stay off my side... we don't need your "help", politically or professionally.

Dear Boris,

The issue is not one of 'reality' but professional responsibility. When journalists start acting substantially outside their roles and make people distrust their motives, then they lose access to the information. They can't do their job any longer.

We're not talking about tone and shading, ala point of view, even at the Fox News level of distortion. Submitting unflattering photos to Atlantic was not unprofessional (although they might choose to not use them). Building a web site 'art project' around the shoot was, because it stepped entirely outside the bounds of what she was expected to be doing, as a journalist.

It's substantially the same as why you don't want journalists acting as undercover spies (or spies pretending they're established journalists), and why you don't want journalists to be required to reveal their professionally-gained knowledge to the government.

Person X will not talk to reporter Y if they think reporter Y will use that for blatantly non-reportage purposes. They may not expect to be reported on fairly or objectively, but they do expect the context will still be something resembling journalism, or they'll reject the reporter.

Greenberg blew that. And she knows better-- she's done editorial work before. She just decided, "Screw the rules of the job."

pax / Ctein

Mike, I was thinking of contacting you with this story earlier, but as usual you are on top of things. I received my copy of The Atlantic two days ago, and happened I read the article on John McCain last night. I thought the photo on the cover was a bit more manipulated for my taste, but that it showed McCain as a strong or "bedrock" personality, and not at all unflattering or adverse to him. It is a cover that is designed as all magazine covers are, that is, to attract readers to buy it.
There was a link to the story on Yahoo to a Fox News interview with James Bennett. I was appalled to see how some nasty blond woman (I do not know her name as I rarely watch that propaganda) on Fox News went after Mr. Bennett. The Atlantic did nothing wrong here, and was also a victim of Jill Greenberg. Among other things, this woman on Fox attacked Mr. Bennett for not doing a Google search on Jill Greenberg before hiring her! Mr. Bennett replied that The Atlantic does not hire people based upon their political beliefs, and that Greenberg was hired as a professional photographer who had done work for other publications. He stated that he was composing an apology to the McCain campaign, although personally, I do not think that The Atlantic had done anything wrong. He also stated that Greenberg had not been and would not be paid, and that The Atlantic was looking into what legal remedies might be available. Mr. Bennett handled himself as a gentleman and in a professional manner, yet this offensive woman on Fox kept on berating Mr. Bennett until, clearly exasperated, he finally stated that The Atlantic had already taken responsibility, and what more did she want?
The Atlantic is, I think, about 150 years old, and offers balanced and in-depth views on a diversity of topics. It also publishes readers' comments on its articles, some of which are critical of the articles. It is a great publication to read a variety of opinions on a variety of timely subjects. If more people took the time to read publications like The Atlantic and spent less time watching crap like Fox News, they would be better informed. I felt bad for Mr. Bennett, not only because he had been betrayed by Jill Greenberg, but because he was unfairly and unnecessarily attacked by the woman on Fox News. I am willing to bet that, in retrospect, he regrets presenting himself to Fox News, and if so, I would not blame him. I think that Fox News owes Mr. Bennett an apology, although I suspect that will never happen.
As for me, I am going to extend my subscription to the Atlantic.

Whatever her personal politics, it is unbelievable that she could have been so unprofessional as to have degraded our profession so completely with her 'petulant child' attitude and behavior.

Her first responsibility was to her client who trusted her, hired her, and gave her access. Her second responsibility was to maintain the integrity of this profession.

As a photographer with an axe to grind, she should have just turned down the shoot instead of behaving like some coked-out lunatic. Truly unbelievable.

Three things:

1. This has nothing to do with commentary or free speech or art. When she hired on to do a straight portrait, she essentially committed herself to acting in some particular professional way; that' s implicit in the contract, so she violated a trust. I don't want to hear about it not being explicit, because many of these things *must* be implicit -- there are simply too many possibilities to cover in an explicit contract that outlines every possible form of behavior. The client *must* assume professional behavior on the photographer's part.

2. It might be a goof -- she might've been playing around, and in a kind of brain mishap, thought, "Hey, this is pretty cool," and put it up on her website. That happens. Remember the LA Times photographer who Photoshopped an Iraq war photo? No need to do it, people were completely happy with his performance up to then. He just...f*cked up.

3. But then, what about the famous Alfred Krupp photogaph taken by Arnold Newman, I think for Fortune Magazine, in which he deliberately made Krupp look like the devil, without Krupp realizing it? Newman betrayed the subject, if not humanity. Of course, the magazine got to choose the photo...

http://www.12thpress.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/newman.jpg

I read an article yesterday which quoted here bragging about taking the 'sinister' photos of McCain by tricking him into thinking she was using multiple lights, when in fact she was using only one low light source. I had no idea how demeaning the photos were until I viewed them on her site this evening. Very unprofessional on several levels.

I'm shocked...it's a blindside ambush job, a sissy coldcock.

She obviously didn't have the balls to say that she didn't want the gig.

I've turned away a few jobs where the subject was a person or a product with various associations that i didn't agree with. If Jill had real balls she would have just said that she wasn't interested in propping up a guy who she had problems with. That said, I've also taken a few gigs with said associations that offered high profile oppurtunities to advance my career and pad the status of my book. As I've gotten older it's become easier for me to say no.

Commercial photographers are constantly shooting things that perpetuate the cycle of cultural and physical waste (a simplistic job description). As Captain Beefheart said on Zappa's Bongo Fury record in the song Poofters Froth, Wyoming, Plans Ahead (regarding the bicentennial celebration in '76)

"This is a song that warns you in advance, that next year, everybody is gonna try and sell you things that maybe you shouldn't ought to buy, and not only that, they've been planning it for years."

In so many ways...We whore ourselves out to ad agencies and companies that dont care about anything but the bottom line and spew out garbage that we don't need that is unhealthy and generally irresponsible.

Companies that create falsehoods and calculated rubrics as selling points. We photographers happily accept cash to illustrate these falsehoods and etceteras. We are part of that chain because the money can be good

If Jill Greenburg thinks that she is doing something politically and socially productive here then she's a darn fool, and a perhaps, displaying some megalomania.

Way beyond unprofessional..cowardly, stupid, inept, irresponsible, unprofessional and disrespectful to other working editorial photogs. Another word that leaps forward is hypocrite...I'm pretty damn sure that, during her skinny days, she took a few gigs that violated her political/social sensibility..She did it here and she's done it before.

Anyhow..i'm growing tired of her indulgence in the use of the diffuse glow filter for her gill lit images..

At this point, McCain hasn't proven himself as a Richard Nixon.


To Boris,

When you land a cover job for a high profile, high circulation publication, things change with regard to the definition of "editorial". The stuff of this cover had go through a few levels of editors before it ever hit the front page...

Ok so all that happened. Bad cover shot. Why make somebody look bad, anybody. So the cover is meant to say, "We The Atlantic Journal, don't like John McCain, so buy this mag and maybe you will not like him as well". So now the editors are saying "On what a bad thing she did, how awful, we are so sorry, we just did not have time to look at the cover shot before we agreed to send it to the printer." My survey shows that there are two other McCain supporters that read and respond to this blog on matters political. Hum... maybe I should sell my cameras and buy snow machine. E

Clearly unprofessional but what is worse is that the manipulations were unsubtle and banal. Compare what Newman did to Krupp. The subtext is there, implied, but it's still a portrait of an industrialist and stays within the conventions of that style of portrait. It is clear that Newman put a lot of thought into exactly how he wanted to portray his subject. How much thought does it take to Photoshop some blood around the mouth of a politician? It's just crass.

Wouldn't there be something in her contract with Atlantic that would preclude this behaviour?

I think it's brilliant. She obviously made a very conscious decision to do this, knowing full well that it would mean never working with John McCain or Atlantic again.

What does she get out of it? Some extremely exceptional shots for her portfolio (how often do you see an active politician bottom-lit menacingly?), the personal satisfaction of sticking it to McCain, and absolutely gigantic amounts of free publicity.

With this one photo shoot, she's given her personal brand an overdue makeover. She's referred to herself as "The Manipulator" for a long time, and now she's finally delivered on the promise of that name with something controversial and fearless.

Obviously Atlantic Monthly is loving it too, because they're sharing in the free publicity. Sure, they have to play dumb (gosh, we had no idea she'd do this!), and they can't hire her again for a while, but for one month, they have the cover that's got everyone buzzing. My guess is that other photo editors went straight to the phone to book her.

I might agree with her view of McCain, but really, she could have declined the job. This is the electronic equivalent of drawing horns and eyeteeth on photos.

OTOH, let's not call everybody a "journalist". The fact that she was (had been?) invited to shoot portraits for papers doesn't make her a journalist any more than cooking dinners for my friends makes me a professional cook. People like James Nachtwey are photojournalists. People like Jill Greenberg and Annie Leibovitz are not.

There's an interesting text about photojournalim by Mark Hancock at http://markhancock.blogspot.com/1996/01/what-is-photojournalist.html.

"A photojournalist is a visual reporter of facts."

Greenbergs and Leibowitzes are not dealing with facts. They are... spin doctors, so to say. They are expected to create a positive image of a person they photograph, not a simple factual photo. In that I agree with Boris.

I think she's done McCain a favour. The furore surrounding the shot will buy a lot of column inches and air time for free. It will also help make up some people's mind to vote for him out of sympathy. Remember there's no such thing as bad publicity these days, all you need is a good spin doctor.

I'd probably be pissed at Ms. Greenberg if I were at The Atlantic, or in favor of John McCain. But ... I'm neither. And I understand the dismay, but come on, does no one see the humor and chutzpah in this subversive act?

Has Greenberg ever called herself a journalist? Or does she think of herself as an artist? An artist who approached John McCain with a respect alien to her sensibilities would be almost as suspect, to me, as a journalist who didn't.

I just hope she is not prescient.

Yeah, she is guilty of a breach of professional responsibility. Terrible that she tried to make him look like a monster just because he supports an illegal invasion and continued occupation of another country based on a pack of lies and which has resulted in 4000 of our own dead, about a million Iraqis and several million refugees.

Odd that no one mentioned the image of McCain selected by the magazine that makes this doddering, mean and dishonest old man, who has to be helped down the ramp of his airliner by his wife, into a tower of strength and potency. That is perhaps more dishonest. At least Greenberg cannot be accused of being like the "good Germans" of WWII who were blind to the obscenity going on around them.

Does The Atlantic own the photos Greenberg took during the photoshoot?

Anyhow, these aren't as good as John Heartfield's photomontages.

The correct answer is: Who cares?

I chuckle when I hear the terms professional responsibility, and professionalism. All I read is jealousy and jealousy. Why do you care about someone else's job, or what the rules are, implicit or explicit? Oh, you say it affects you... it doesn't, you are just trying to control other people by referring to an unwritten social decorum you deem acceptable. Tough. Nobody is bleeding here. The girl just wanted the attention, you "professionals" are giving it to her.

So she broke some implicit contract to torpedo her career... is that what this is about? Well, guess what, it's her career... she gets to do with it what she wants. If you think one photographer can be so impactful as to affect your livelyhood you are sorely mistaken. Or did photographers overnight gain some mysterious power to control the universe?

Your clients aren't going to be affected... they aren't going to pick up on this and demand your memory cards after the shoot... they aren't going to add 5 pages to the wedding contract demanding you make them look good. You know why? Because you won't be eating in 6 months if this is how you treat them.

I admire what this girl did, even if it's sheer stupidity, she has chutzpah. If McCain and his handlers can be fooled into thinking photos taken with a single floor mounted flash could ever be flattering, what does that say about the future of our country in his hands? That's the trick they use at haunted houses during halloween for the guy in the dracula suit.

If the photographers’ own statements and actions weren't that of of a pre-pubescent teen scoring a "prank", I would have thought the McCain camp engineered this to engender sympathy for their candidate. Greenberg probably didn't think about that if her skills at motivating political change are as bad as her photos.

This is what happens when photographers editorialize, they get exposed for what they really are, and the mystery of their photos is gone, in a flash (pun intended). I can make a septuagenarian war hero look crappy any time I want, I live in Boca Raton, Fl. I just have to drive to the mall with my camera. Maybe Mz. Greenberg should come down here if she really likes this style, I could show her the ropes... my favorite spot is outside the local Walmart waiting for the Century Village bus to arrive.

On second thought, I think I'll stick to making flattering photos of my clients instead of becoming a Perez Hilton wannabee with an appetite for attention that makes Tila Tequila gasp in awe.

I'm surprised at some of the responses here. Ernest, it's not the cover shot anyone's objecting to. It's straight and perfectly appropriate. It's that she "freelanced" from within the context of the shoot, then took the outtakes and made bad political cartoons out of them. She took advantage of both her subject and her client. But there's nothing wrong with the cover they ran!

Ben, I doubt *very much* that the Atlantic is "loving" this in any way, shape, or form. I can almost guarantee you they are not. They are embarrassed and compromised by their subcontractor's behavior.

Mike J.

Errr, this is the USA, 2008.

Folks are worried about self-service, lack of forethought, or just plain greed?

How quaint.

Professional assignments should not be used to make personal statements. The Magazine ordered the shoot, and using photos from that occasion for different purposes is really a bad idea. And the result is very bad by the way.

Well, most of the comments here omit a fact : the manipulated images are hosted on Jill Greenberg's site, named... manipulator.

For us adults, isn't it a sufficient warning that what we might see in a photograph could also NOT be the truth?

For me, I would have preferred to see this kind of manipulation on the Obama side (maybe because he appears a tad too gentle - maybe also because I feel more on the democrat side, and so it ensures my personal bias is not reflected in some other superstructure), but what Greenberg did is to shed light on, basically, what stands in a portrait, in the peculiar context of a presidential campaign.
Such a portrait can't convey anything but biased opinions, in a way or another, period.
Who here, among photographers, is naive enough to believe in photography as a neutral representation of the world? It's also the role of the photographer to fight against this tentative (among the TV-spectator crowds at least) belief.

That had to be said, and I am thankful to Jill Greenberg to hit that nail on the head.

That 'blood' looks more like lipstick to me.

This sinister grotesque fits quite well into the history or our political imagery. Among other things, it offers a bit of comic relief that keeps us from noticing the state of our union. We can all cluck cluck, and forget about the lobbyist behind the curtain. Works for me.

Well, I am not bothered by the cover photo, and presumably neither was the Atlantic. Come to that I am not bothered by what some photographer does on their own site, especially when the site is called "manipulator". But using the pics that she collected during a paid portrait shoot to construct the manipulations was the wrong thing to do, I'd say. I don't see it as a great moral wrong, I don't think it castigates the profession, and doesn't make the magazine look bad either. It does make her look a little foolish though. This is the kind of thing they do in university newspapers that everyone ignores because they know the source.

What I find interesting is that this is just another example of how all of American journalism seems to be heading towards frank sensationalism to sell. Please also see the discussion about the Fox News interview described above. Selling is more important than informing in this day and age. There is so much vital news and information that does not get to us while we are kept busy with more and more tabloid trash.

As an aside I seriously doubt that Mr. McCain is going to suffer politically because of her comic renditions of him or the so called sinister appearance on the cover. Whoever Jill Greenberg is she managed to preach to the choir on her views of McCain and to everyone else she just looks silly and very unprofessional.

Why are the Palin in bikini and rifle pics funny and these not? Seems it would have been prudent of Greenberg to steal pics off of Flickr first? I dare say the sexism argument might be proven correct in this case.

Ho hum, ha ha...

I guess I don't see what all the hubbub is about. See accepted a contract job, and delivered on that contract. The Atlantic, as far as I know, has never said they were unhappy with the photo she delivered to them.

I also don't believe that Jill Greenberg ever said she was a professional portrait or editorial photographer, she calls herself an artist. Like a lot of artists, she creates controversy with her art. She succeeded in this case.

While I have to admit, I don't care for the photographs, nor most of her other work, it's obvious a lot of people do. She's had far more of her work in museums/galleries than me.

I've also seen a lot of other photographers use outakes from contract jobs for other uses. Are we saying now that all those photographers were wrong also?

In the end, she accepted a contract and delivered on that contract. As part of the contract was she supposed to deliver all the work to the magazine? Since I haven't seen it, I don't know. The Atlantic ran the photograph on the cover of the magazine. It seems to me that if they don't pay her, she has a right to file a copyright claim against them. I'm surprised that a bunch of photographers would support anything else.

I think people here are confusing journalism with fashion. Jill Greenberg's work has consistently skated toward the shock/fashion/look-at-me side of the fence. Love it or hate it (and I'm in the latter group), she's just playing the game. Like Madonna arriving at a show opening in a topless outfit: there is no such thing as bad publicity. Getting some buzz is all that matters. And Greenberg has surely achieved that! Anyone expecting 'objective' journalism from a photographer who presents heavily Photoshop'ed sobbing toddlers as "art" is being a bit naive.

And spare me the outrage. This is the politician who is lying about...well, pretty much everything.

Being a conservative I was pissed off at Greenberg and as a photographer I thought her results were pretty lame, not much different than crap I pulled as a... sophomore. The actual cover portrait is ok-boring, about what I'd expect from her and probably what the staid Atlantic editors wanted.

But after thinking about it, what she did as far as manipulating outakes to make portfolio pieces and artwork is just fine. In fact that is the way it is supposed to work with editorial work, since the pay is so low, the best photographers will push a little harder to get something impressive for their portfolios and use the assignment to do work that is clearly their own, not some advertising or corporate art director's ideas. The whole idea is to generate secondary sales after an embargo period... so she worked her ass off in her 30 minute shoot and that's cool by me.

I don't know her terms w the Atlantic but provided she honored them, then she is in the clear and all parties benefit from the publicity. Even McCain gets sympathy, as Greenberg's photos will hardly sway any fence-sitters. In fact they demonstrate quite well the liberal elitist attitude and biases held by the art and media industries.

The losers here are other professional photographers who will face increased scrutiny and stiffer contracts from their clients as a result of her grab at self-promotion.

And, yes, I think she is vile, mean-spirited woman. But that's not a crime and it's hardly unexpected that there are some a-holes in the world.

I hope her (and Annie L.) get audited right out of business. That's reality too.

I actually like the shadow picture (not the vampire one) better than the one they chose for the cover, which has Greenberg's trademark plastic-doll look.

It makes him look like a smily grandpa lit from below, not sinister at all in my book, but maybe we have different cultural referentials.

As for the photographer taking pictures she was not "supposed to" take, well I guess photogs are not submissive wage-slaves and can think and act independently and unexpectedly. What a surprise.


Btw: for the rest of us living outside of the US, can you clarify what kind of mag Atlantic is?

Steven Scherbinksi,
Actually, I don't see how the Atlantic could refuse to pay her. She delivered, and obviously they used (and approved) her work. I don't know by what rationale they could refuse to pay her, unless she violated some part of the contract.

It's also possible that they could sue her (I also don't know that). But withholding payment doesn't seem like it would have a legal basis.

Mike J.

Didn't anybody from the McCain camp look at her site before she was given the job?

The level of "outrage" seems ...."overwrought".

Just who is the "manipulater"?

Bron

"Btw: for the rest of us living outside of the US, can you clarify what kind of mag Atlantic is?"

Interesting questions. It's about 150 years old, and was long known as a Boston-Brahmin literary magazine in opposition to the New York-based literary magazines. It's a supposedly general-interest magazine, but I remember once reading that its target market was readers who had advanced degrees and well-above-average incomes. Recently it was purchased by a tycoon and moved to Washington, D.C.

Interestingly (although not relevantly), the current owner, who is working hard to improve the content of the magazine, went to great lengths to hire Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote the article on McCain. (Goldberg was previously a writer for the New Yorker.) In the process, it's rumored that he bought a pony for each of Goldberg's children!

Mike J.

Mike said:

It's a supposedly general-interest magazine, but I remember once reading that its target market was readers who had advanced degrees and well-above-average incomes.

I subscribe and I am a college drop out earning a less than staggering income!

It does seem to be a bit more provocative and less provincial these days. I have yet to read the piece on McCain. I went right to the article wondering if surfing Porn is akin to Adultery.

"Arnold Newman created a chilling portrait of Alfried Krupp for Newsweek Magazine in 1963 that features harsh sidelighting similar to Greenberg's "sinister" McCain portrait. (Go to the Arnold Newman Archive to see this and other color photos taken by the photographer, arnoldnewmanarchive.com.) Krupp's family business was steel, for which they employed slave laborers to manufacture armaments for Hitler's Third Reich…Newman, in taking the photo, said he felt the man's malevolence and so depicted him in that light…an artistic interpretation."

I think the Newman shoot was for Newsweek Magazine in 1963. It was used by his client (the publication), and is in my personal opinion, artistically light years beyond the latest controversial image. It is generally considered one of the classics of environmental portraiture.

As far as all the ethics stuff goes, Newman's image was ran by Newsweek. I think it might have been a cover, but I could be wrong on that.

I would assume that Atlantic had a contract with her, did it address outtake usuage? Did McCain's handlers see the contract?

I feel uncomfortable attacking her, "professional vs unprofessional". I only know that I would not have published the ghoulish one if I was her. I would not have since it might reflect upon my client, and, it is a tacky image.

The only loser here though, was the viewer. It is an ugly image, that lacks all subtlety.

Winners:
Atlantic: free promotion.
McCain: Just another example of "liberal" deceit, trickery, etc. :)
Photographer: Boldness = artist?

While in a different catagory, does anyone remember the image from the 1990's "Piss Christ" by Andres Serrano? A not very interesting image elevated to national attention.
Serrano entered the arts crowd, and the far right raised more funds. Whatever...

Re Atlantic:
"It's a supposedly general-interest magazine, but I remember once reading that its target market was readers who had advanced degrees and well-above-average incomes."

Yes, aimed at a demographic similar to that of Harper, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and to some extent, Esquire.

I have to take issue with JM Colberg's argument. The fundamental motives behind Krupp's and McCain's portrayals are the same. The photographer held the subject in contempt and wanted to express that. It doesn’t matter what we think of each person to justify the act of making such an “in your face” editorial statement in a photo. They each made a statement about a person, using similar techniques (albeit to varying degrees of skill and only in the published photos). It’s up to you to agree with that statement or not. But each tried to do the same thing and it’s not like they made that clear to the subject when they shot them.

I posted this on another site:

If you feel that Krupp's complicity equated to him the most sinister of Nazi criminals, McCain could be argued being complicit in the death of thousands of Iraqis – which I would think Greenberg agrees, given her stance. Indeed, it could be argued that McCain may even be a bigger player since he voted for the Iraq war and dropped bombs in Vietnam, just like Krupp worked people to death, further emphasizing her opinion of McCain as a warmonger.

I’m playing devil’s advocate: I disagree with that opinion of McCain but I think it would be safe to say that Greenberg does not and she makes that point clear in her series of photos and even more blatant in her amateurish photoshops, in case we just don’t get it.

So put aside the opinion of Krupp and McCain for a second. Greenberg holds McCain in as much contempt as you, I and others hold Krupp. Whether you agree or not with Greenberg is immaterial as to whether or not she can alter the lighting to create a mood for an EDITORIAL photo because she's entitled to her opinion. And, if Newman is entitled to his opinion, then isn't Greenberg entitled to hers? Both used similar methods in the final published product (change in lighting, pose).

You can debate the merits of Greenberg's opinion in her editorial photo, and accept or dismiss it and the publication that runs it. That's your decision and it's your responsibility to formulate a decision, AFTER the publication. But to say that she is wrong for altering the lighting and pose and Newman was not because one subject is viewed with more contempt by you than the other? That's not a valid argument.

However, saying that it's acceptable to portray someone in an altered environment based on your opinion of their character, then what one thinks of a person affecting how they're portrayed could be taken down to the most minute level, which is the basis of every argument (right or left wing) of bias in the media.

So hate the Atlantic Monthly for running it, but both they and Newsweek 45 years before made conscious decisions to run a photographer's alteration of conditions to make a statement (I would think the AM’s blurb supports this) in a news magazine.

Whether or not it's OK to do that regardless of the photographer or the subject is the real question.

I think the Atlantic Monthly is just backpedaling in this environment of flaps regarding media, bias, and manipulation.

I find the Atlantic's protestations of innocence somewhat naive at best. Her previously most famous work are the sequences of crying children. All of those images are titled as political protests against the current Bush government (Titles like 'four more years'), war in Iraq, rise of the Christian right in American politics. The front piece to her 'end times' project is pretty clear in that leaning.

So they hire a high profile, already controversial and clearly politically active photographer and send her to photograph the potential successor to George Bush - then claim they are totally surprised by what she did. Not very high standards of journalism there, I think.


As to what she did with the photographs, well in many ways it is cheap theatrics - that seems to be the norm in American politics - but it also falls into a fairly well established tradition of portraitists manipulating their subjects to portray something that may or may not be there, that they want to show.

Karsh stealing Churchill's cigar. Avedon telling King Edward and Mrs Simpson about the dog he'd just killed. Newman's image of Krupp.

Like Greenberg, those photographers weren't journalists, showing, 'just the facts'. They were portraitists, bringing their own biases and views to the subject.

On the cover shot (not the manipulated shots on her site) she stated she left the 'eyes red and the skin bad' so she could be accused of more subtle failures there, too.

The manipulated images on her site are unsubtle, obvious and cheap shots. The deceit of setting up standard modeling lights but only firing the lower strobe seems more underhand too. It is all just a bit tacky - but it seems to be getting more of the press that she craves.

I agree wholeheartedly that this is poor behavior on the part of a photographer hired to do a job - operating under that pretext to show the subject in a 'bad light' (and make the client look bad) for personal gain. (And I truly believe personal gain is what this is about; not politics). But I think that this breach of rules is part of the plan; that Jill Greenberg is willing to take risks, break rules, risk her professional reputation all for the sake of her 'art'. It's all marketing. To me, it stinks, but I suppose some people eat this stuff up. (As for McCain, he's in full "outrage" mode lately, offended at every other thing someone says or does, so this just fits right in).

What a load of sanctimonious rubbish from an awful lot of you.

Jill seems to be just a little bit bonkers and I totally respect that. A little madness goes a long way in our homogeneous, sanitised, corporate world.

Mr McCain likes to think of himself as a little bit of a maverick so I'm sure he can see the funny side.

Oh and don't mix mag covers with journalism. A mag cover is editorial in name only. It's advertising people !!ADVERTISING!!

Jill Greenberg: making cringe even the people who share her party affiliation.

Now I know how reasonably minded Republicans feel about Bill O'Reilly.

It's also interesting, although not directly relevant, to note that Atlantic seems to harvest some of its Web site photography from "Flickr" under "creative commons licenses".

I therefore suspect that Ms. Greenberg's assignments will henceforth be fulfilled by some former data base administrator and devoted Strobist follower from Flickr.

Interesting how most of the epithets hurled at the photographer apply to the politician in question: manipulator, liar, untrustworthy, media whore, blood-sucker, sell-out, self-absorbed monger of phony outrage.

I have doubts this will affect any professional art photographer at all, to tell you the truth, other than adding a couple of lines to his/her contract when she crosses over into photojournalism.

How many political publications "trust" artists?

While I found Greenberg's "stealth" shot of McCain amateurish at best, and her photoshopping juvenile and tasteless, I think Colberg's distinction that Krupp is a war criminal while McCain isn't, a thin one. McCain was quite happy in a career where he repeatedly dropped bombs on innocent women and children- rice farmers in a third world country that never attacked us (until we attacked them).

His kill numbers may be lower, and although he's been declared a war hero rather than a a war criminal, I find the semantics questionable at best.

Art without creativity isn't.

Political commentary without recourse to issues isn't.

Work without integrity isn't.

Jill Greenberg has done a great dis-service to photographers. It's already hard enough to get shots of public figures -let alone, someone running for the highest seat in public office.
Ultimately, she's opened the lid on a Pandora's box that won't soon be closed. I forsee a future where every client demands every copy of every shot taken on a shoot, and restricts the photographer from using their own work in a portfolio. Sure, they'll still be credited when their work is published, but they won't have any rights or say as to how their shots are used.
Let's suppose Greenberg went out on her own time and shot McCain while he was giving a speech, or making a public appearance, and THEN photoshopped the results. I suspect no one would care. We'd just write her off as some sensationalist hack photographer.

I'm surprised that in 40-some comments so many people seem to be missing the point (or maybe I am, or I'm misinterpreting). Some people have said it, and I'm no expert, but to re-iterate :

1) If Ms. Greenberg had taken her own photos of McCain at some public function, then created her art work from it and published it, no one would or could have any ethical/trust problem with that. You might not like it, but it's her business.

2) Ms. Greenberg was paid to take photos for Atlantic, for their article, which makes it a journalistic assignment; This is completely true regardless of her background, whether Atlantic looked at her website, what she's done in the past, etc. Therefore, her use of the photos to create editorial content/art work after the fact is unethical or dishonest, if not illegal.

I too am wondering if the Atlantic owns those photos, and if there's any recourse for them due to her use of photos they own. In that case, it would, in fact, be illegal.

"You can't do it right inside the wrong system."
Said a film producer on Okto (small independent tv station in Vienna).

>> Ctein said:
>> She just decided, "Screw the rules of the job."
Of course she did. So what?

Mrs. Greenberg tried at least, she is hell smart. Instead of bowing to the corrupt, inhuman, criminal and manipulating system (especially the media) we live in, she did something to bring public attention to the militant insanity which is governing US and threatening the rest of the world.

What is professional, all you upright people complaining and bitching? Transporting endless lies to the public? Gaining public support for criminal wars? Make children eat and drink shit in order to rise profits (McDonald, Coke...)? Make mothers to feed their babies with inferior milk substitute (they did since at least the 70s)? Transfer public health care to the privat sector, then refuse paying for medical treatment and let people die? Sure, according to stock corporation law this is completely legitime, more: it is mandatory. A CEO complying to this standard is by all means professional. But they are all morally speaking the gravediggers of mankind. And there are tons of more examples where this damned corporate complex harms or even kills people in order to make profit.

>> Joe said:
>> Her first responsibility was to her client who trusted her
Makes my heart bleed. Nope Sir, her first responsibility is to herself and her moral.

I mean, you are the guys who would execute any injustice, if... if only it was your "job". "I am just doing my job..." you would herald, and feel right and good.

Watch and learn: the job is no holy thing, it is only holy inside this crap system, in order to make people like most of you obey.

Makes me vomit!

At first, I thought this was deeply unprofessional of Ms. Greenberg, but some of that may be biased by my very negative opinion of a previous project of hers.

But then I really came around more to the position held by some commenters here -- so long as she retained the copyrights by contract, it is her right to do whatever she wants with the outtakes from the photo shoot.

Will this make it hard on portrait photographers in the future? For a little while, maybe. Some clients may demand copyright or exclusive rights-to-use (at least for a while) in negotiations. Photographers may acquiesce to these negotiations, they may not. This will work itself out.

And can I call McCain an unconvicted war criminal? Or will mass murderer have to suffice? I'm not a big fan of bomber pilots, particularly those in unjust wars, and even less so when they kill under the banner of my country.

Just some observations; I haven't read the comments yet, I am sure that some are repeats.

First, and there is some irony in this, but it seems to me that those who will come out ahead in this are either people who made errors, or who were not intended to benefit at all.

Probably the greatest victor in this is the McCain/Palin ticket. This just gives them another claim that "the media is against us". This ticket has become incredibly adept at being the victims IMO; it seems to be their best political strategy in some ways. While I think that for the most part, McCain can't really be blamed, I do think that allowing a very outspoken critic to be the photographer makes it look like they are not all that careful, or they aren't fully thinking things through.

The Atlantic also made a big mistake hiring the photographer they did, yet I am sure they will be rewarded with their highest circulation issue because of this error.

Greenberg certainly appears to be crass and calculating: She has given another black eye to photographers, one which will, in a very small way, trickle down to increased nasty glares and further obstacles to anyone taking photos in public. I believe that to many people, a photographer is a photographer and since she is a jerk, we all must be jerks. Please notice that I did say "in a very small way"; I don't think that effect will be huge. I do think that commercial portrait and lifestyle photographers will be hit harder and more directly because of this. Yet, bad as her actions were, I can't help but suspect that Greenberg will only increase her business due to the notoriety.

The biggest loser in this is the Obama/Biden ticket. Having McCain being the wronged victim just does not help the Dems at all.

One further comment: Over at the Gong Show (a well known, so called professional forum), I can't believe how many of these so called pros are whining and complaining that she has broken "journalistic ethics". Folks, she is not a journalist, please get this straight. I am not sure why this confusion bothers me so much, but if you are to whine, whine for the correct reasons. She is nasty, hypocritical and duplicitous, but she is a portrait photographer and at least within the terms of this conversation, she is not held to the standards of a journalist. You would think pros would know this, but it seems they don't.

Anyways, not being American, I can't vote, but it does bother me that Obama takes another knock for something which he can't control at all.

>>Or did photographers overnight gain some mysterious power to control the universe
LMAO, great said.

Sorry guys, reading the comments further, I see that the opinions are somewhat mixed. So my rant only applies to maybe 70% of you ;-))

And yunfat said it much more eloquently than I did.
So I just say: totally agree with yunfat. And ben for that matter.


>> Geoff Wittig said:
>>And spare me the outrage. This is the politician who is lying about...well, pretty much everything

Geoff, but he is professional, didn't you get that? Like all the professional photogs tell you, and want to restrict everyone else to their own professionalism. So he may, she not, dig it?

In the end, as she owns the copyright on those photos, she is free to use them any way she likes. How many photographers would be willing to sign over the copyright to the magazine? Or to the subject? What happens when you go to the high-street proffesional photographer for the family photo? Who owns copyright on that?

I wouldn't post this, except that there's a "featured comment" that claims McCain is not a war criminal. The fact is that McCain dropped bombs on civilians in Vietnam, and has supported illegal military actions (Iraq, Iran) as a senator and presidential candidate. There is a case to say that he is a war criminal.

I think what greenberg did very (very) funny. I like it a lot. This business is getting way too serious.

A lot of the reaction sits on the comfort levels of the commenters.
That McCain seems more than likely to continue the destruction of the society/culture/country/world to a point of no return should have some bearing.
But the p.o.v is mostly "Things are not great but still pretty okay. I've got a career and this idiot's wrecking things for the rest of us."
Waiting until McCain's had a turn at the wheel, and has proven himself a war criminal of Kruppian degree, as Bush has, may be the adult thing to do but it won't matter much by then.
Crying children as political cartoons? How lame.
And how many of the outraged sensibilities involved here are more disgusted at that controversial manipulation than the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq?
Most I'm guessing.
Grieving mothers with head scarves?
Cliche, done, redundant, boring.
Propriety's nice, but it's not much use against evil.
The adolescent aspects of Greenberg's auto-vandalism aren't inspiring particularly, but the fatuous ease with which she's being derided and dismissed, by professionals with more immediately at stake in the industry than in the culture/country/world McCain seems sure to continue the destruction of, is myopic.
It's like she was a journalist and hit him with a cream pie at a news conference.
Silly, bad taste, damaging to access points for the rest of the journos. Yes, but there's all those suffering lives, and the world pretty much dying at our feet.
Good taste, bad karma.
One trumps the other.
Which one's on top depends a lot on your allegiance, and your engagement with this historical moment.

There is an old story, perhaps true, perhaps not, but illustrative nonetheless.

In the 1950's, a manufacturer of household appliances hired Pablo Picasso to design a refrigerator for them. They paid him what was at the time a rather large sum of money. And when they asked him for his design, he said, "I don't know about the shape, but the color has to be white".

Certainly The Atlantic knew what to expect, and their protestations to the contrary, I'm reasonably certain they got exactly what they paid for.

Likewise, Mr. McCain should have known what to expect from Ms. Greenberg. And although Mr. McCain claims to be computer illiterate, I can't imagine his staff didn't at the very least google Ms. Greenberg. McCain knew what he was in for and went through with it anyway.

And Ms. Greenberg did what she does, and did it well.

So each of the parties got exactly what they wanted: exposure, publicity, controversy. If there is an injured party here, I can't find it. As for the rest of us, as the saying goes, "opinions are like toothbrushes; we all have our own".

Ok full disclosure first - I was a lifelong Democrat (35 years) until last year, when I changed my registration to "unaffiliated" (that's what they call it in Maryland.) Earlier this year, I changed again to Republican. I began to question the leadership of my former party after Sept 11th 2001, but it actually was a long, slow process that began two decades ago.

Anyway, as a strong McCain supporter... **I really don't care** about this Greenberg thing. I certainly wasn't insulted - to the contrary, the doctored photos say more about the "artist" than they do about Senator McCain.

Greenberg had her choices and she made them; now she will have to live with any consequences - it's as simple as that.

Since I'm not a professional photographer, and certainly not one who would be called by a major magazine to photograph one of their covers, I don't really have much skin in this game. I can understand why some of you would be more upset.

BTW, I really don't see anything in the way of "outrage" coming from either McCain himself or his staff. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't post one or two of Greenbergs photos in the bus.

There's an interesting... Ripple Effect, to use the phrase from Mark Tucker's blog. Like, "now the contracts will be stricter, now they are going to demand tethered shooting, now this and now that." With the clear implication that photographers will have to put up with it.

What's wrong with you people? Will they hold guns to your heads? Will they create new laws of physics? What makes you think that you will have to do and put up with _anything?_

Just say no. (Or, just say no, thank you. :-)) No to more limiting contracts, no to flunkies hovering over your shoulder. Stand up and fight for yourselves.

Or don't. But then don't complain.

Just another self-marketing ploy from one of the many "look at me" types out there.

Look at all the wasted bandwidth with her name attached already….

It has nothing to do with McCain, and everything to do with her.

It's amazing how many reputable sites are falling for her "get my name out there for free" ploy, and gleefully supplying free advertising.

Damage her business or rep...hardly.

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