It seems complicated. I interviewed Barbara Kruger recently, and she brought up the subject of stealing work, too. Her response to it was going online and finding both major and minor examples of work that copied her style, and she made a piece from that.
Oh, did she?
You’re not just working, you have an audience.
Yeah, she said it was her reaction to how overwhelming it is, especially since her style is pretty well-defined.
That’s interesting. There are websites where they call it the “Jill Greenberg effect,” and there are all of these tutorials where they deconstruct what they guess my lighting to be. There actually was somebody selling a web video tutorial with my name on it, and I was like, “Excuse me? I’m not dead.” To see others do it for their work, as far as I’m concerned, it’s like taking food out of my children’s’ mouths. I mean, it just is. When a whole bunch of people started doing it, I was like, “That’s nice, but I actually make a living doing this, so if you’re going to just copy me, that’s not cool.”
Do you feel like it pushes you to go into ever-more specific and untouchable directions?
Honestly one thing that sucks about my lighting approach is that it’s really expensive. It’s a lot of lights and a fair amount of retouching. With the economy being the way it is, it would be nice to come up with a lighting style that doesn’t require 8 lights, just for the budget’s sake. Sure, I would love to create something totally insane that no one could copy, but first of all, I don’t think it’s possible.
Also, clients do all these behind-the-scenes videos, and you can look at how other photographers light things from the behind-the-scenes videos. People do it all the time, and that’s actually how my lighting style got out, from the Gwen Stefani album cover shoot. I have actually told the behind-the-scenes people to avoid shooting my lighting set-up, but it’s hard, because you don’t want to seem like a “prima donna” to the production. There’s not really any winning. Honestly, I don’t even want to be in the video, otherwise I would have chosen to be on the other side of the camera. I just want to focus on my work. It’s funny, someone said to me, “You have the hardest job. Everyone watches you while you work.” And I’m like, “You’re right!” You’re not just working, you have an audience. I sort of block that out. Everyone’s seeing me roll on the ground. I try not to think about it, and I definitely don’t want it on video.
For Horses, there will be an exhibit in New York and Los Angeles, right?
Yes, the exhibit in New York will be on October 18 at Clamp Art. There’s a big book release at Milk Studios on the 19. I have a show in Amsterdam on December 1st at Jaski Gallery. Then I’m going to have a show in February 2013 at Katherine Cone Gallery in Los Angeles.
You photograph your kids a lot. Would you say that they inspire you the most, and do you find that being a mother adds to your work?
It does. It was part of the inspiration for the End Times series. Once you have kids, you suddenly pay much more attention to the future of the planet. The work/life balance is actually quite hard, trying to accomplish so much and move forward with my career, while spending quality time with the kids. Travel is so necessary, and it physically hurts to think about how fast they are growing up and the time I am missing with them. Having kids obviously added a whole new layer to some of my ideas, but I still think certain things are funny that are almost antithetical to being a normal mom. Like the weird, crazy, fake baby that I got online. [Laughs] I do it all with a sense of humor, really.