WAS A PARTICULAR KIND OF
OBSESSION,” says photographer
Lauren Green;eld of her latest body
of work. “It was a 25-year project
and it was completely all-consuming
and addictive in a way that I didn’t really realize when I
started.” ;e work o;ers both a retrospective of the Los
Angeles-based documentarian’s career and an overarching
narrative exploring the in;uence of a;uence in our
society. Encompassing a book, a feature-length ;lm for
Amazon Studios, and an exhibit that combines life-size
prints with text and ;lm, “Generation Wealth” draws on
Green;eld’s archive of more than half a million images, as
well as new work.
To tackle such a daunting project, Green;eld and
curator Trudy Wilner Stack created a sort of walk-in
storyboard. “It was kind of a dream,” says Green;eld.
“Our process in doing the edit was very printer-driven.
We printed about 5,000 pictures, and I painted all of the
walls in my studio and print room magnetic.” ;ey output
the images on a Canon PIXMA printer so that they could
arrange them on the walls, starting with 4x6 prints. ;ey
printed larger sizes as they narrowed the collection down
to the 600 images that appear in the book, published this
year by Phaidon Press.
“It was an opportunity to really re;ect on the last 25 years
in so many ways: what was in the work, the form of the
work, what it added up to,” says Green;eld. “In thinking
about the narrative arc, I needed to see all of the pictures
on the wall.” Using prints during that early phase also
allowed her to achieve a uni;ed aesthetic, even though the
original photographs were taken on various types of ;lm
and Canon digital cameras. “;at’s where we really got the
color exact, both for the book and for the larger prints,”
From the images for the book, Green;eld and Wilner
Stack then chose 200 for the exhibit. Viewing the large
prints revealed details that even Green;eld hadn’t seen
since she took the shots. “It was usually an opportunity
for wonderful surprises about the picture,” she says. “;e
technology is so gratifying now, because however that
diamond sparkled when you saw it, or the sea looked blue
on vacation with the 1%, or the grill gleamed on Lil Jon’s
teeth, now the technology really allows that to come out.”
Green;eld worked with her longtime printing tech to
output the exhibit images in sizes as large as 4 x 6 feet on
her Canon imagePROGRAF printer.
Bringing out the details of a subject wasn’t just a
technical feat for Green;eld; it’s part of how she engages
viewers with an image. “I think the speci;cs make it
universal,” she says. “You really see the grit and the reality
and the speci;city.” And letting exhibit visitors experience
her subjects in large prints is equally important to her.
“Really, the power of this work is empathy,” she explains.
“When you print at a size that lets you stand face to face
with this human that’s on your scale, it’s a very di;erent
relationship. Standing in front of somebody and relating
to them is just really unique. I think that the print is really
where the work gets life breathed into it.”
You can share the experience at the International Center
of Photography in New York, starting on
PICTURED ;LEFT TO RIGHT;: Jackie, 41, and friends with Versace
handbags at a private opening at the Versace store, Beverly Hills,
2007. A Versace devotee, Jackie shopped from monthly shipments
of new merchandise that the design house sent to her home;
lona at home with her daughter, Michelle, 4, Moscow, 2012. Ilona’s
sweater was produced for her in a custom color by her friend Andrey
Artyomov, whose Walk of Shame fashion line is popular among the
wives of oligarchs.
THE MAKING OF
LAUREN GREENFIELD ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PRINT TO HER NEW
RETROSPECTIVE AND BOOK, MORE THAN TWO DECADES IN THE MAKING.
PHOTOS © LAUREN GREENFIELD/INSTITUTE
Canon imagePROGRAF Series PRO-6000, PRO-4000, PRO-2000, PRO-1000