Jill Greenberg, a child abuser or just a talented photographer!?!

October 5, 2008 at 7:09 pm (Uncategorized)

Most of you have seen that art exhibit which displays toddlers with tear streaked cheeks crying and howling as if the world were ending!! I heard a lot about it myself but I had this idea of posting about it since many haven’t heard about it!!

To elicit such emotions in her photographs, Greenberg took away their lollipos!!

Greenberg’s daugther appears in some of the photographs, and the other children’s parents were present when the photos were taken, the photographer said.

“If I thought that would have caused any harm to a child then I wouldn’t have done it,” she said. “And as soon as their lollipop was returned they were happy little campers.”

Jill Greenberg answers the critics who claim she abuses toddlers in the name of art

June/July 2006

Your images have certainly caused an uproar. What do you say to people who call you a child abuser?
I think they’re insane. I know the comment you’re talking about. I don’t know what the guy’s personal problems are. I don’t think he’s got kids. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and she cries for no reason, a hundred times a day. It’s normal. Maybe getting kids to cry isn’t the nicest thing to do, but I’m not causing anyone permanent psychological damage.

How many kids did you shoot altogether?

Around 35. Some were the children of friends, plus my own daughter; others came from the Ford or Jet Set model agencies. Kid models aren’t very expensive—not as expensive as monkeys, for example.

How did you get the kids to cry?
Mostly we did it by giving them something, a lollypop, and then taking it away. Some would just cry for no reason—my daughter did that; she didn’t like standing on the apple box I used for a platform because it was a little wobbly. Some just wouldn’t cry at all. For all the kids I worked really fast. We would book 12 or so for one day, and see who we could make cry. At the end of the day I was not in a good mood. I don’t like making little kids cry.

The lighting is very dramatic. How did you accomplish that?
It’s the same lighting I used for my portraits of monkeys, and I’ve been using it for some recent magazine cover portraits. It’s really flattering frontal light, so the subject doesn’t have to have any actual shine on his or her skin to appear shiny. None of the kids had any makeup on. And also I work on that shiny quality in postproduction.

How did you come up with this idea for the project?

I saw this little girl who’d come to a party with her mom, and she was beautiful, so I thought it might be interesting to photograph her. When they came to my studio, the mother brought along her toddler son, and I decided to shoot him too. We took off his shirt because it was dirty. He started crying on his own, and I shot that, and when I got the contact sheets back I thought, “This could go with a caption, ‘Four More Years,'” like he was appalled at George Bush’s reelection. The images have a real power—they immediately get under your skin. The emotion you see is just so compelling, yet they’re beautiful at the same time. That was one of the things that interested me about the project—the strength and beauty of the images as images. I also thought they made a kind of political statement about the current state of anxiety a lot of people are in about the future of the country. Sometimes I just feel like crying about the way things are going. 

However, she didn’t stop even after all the controversary that occured!! The same story continued with the animals!!




  1. aga said,

    I don’t much like the notion of making kids cry to produce art. I wonder of Ms Greenberg would be as comfortable with the notion of making creatures cry to produce life. What would she think of such a Creator?

  2. Mina said,

    Talk bout cruelty…
    the childrens pics look as bad as the animals, though the animals look a tad bit frigthed:/
    or is it juz me?

  3. hissweetheart said,

    Right Aga!!

    It’s merely inhumanity wrapped with a stupid idea called creativity!!

  4. hissweetheart said,

    You know, I was thinking that they might have been injected with something!! They do look fightened!!

  5. Mina said,

    Hehe – Maybe they have been injected prior to the shot with something, wonder what it was

  6. hissweetheart said,

    Who knows Mina ;D

  7. Fatimah said,

    At first I thought they were drawings.. But pics? They are amazing. I wouldn’t like that to happen to my child or to me, but they are really great pictures! They make you think, don’t they?

  8. hissweetheart said,

    I honestly loved them!!

    However, I hated the torturing story behind them!!

    They do, they do!!

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