Born in New York City in 1949, Lois Greenfield is an American Photographer, best known for the unique way she photographs the human body in motion. She majored in anthropology and was expected to become an ethnographic film maker, but instead decided to become a photojournalist for local newspapers. However her career path changed one more, when she was assigned to photograph a rehearsal of a dance show in the mid 1970’s. Since then she has been photographing dancers in her studio to explore the expressive potential of movement. Greenfield’s work has been published and exhibited in galleries and museums across the globe, and she now gives lectures and workshops all over the world. Her work has been used by many companies and clients, creating images for Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham and American Ballet Theatre. Her work has also featured in campaigns for huge companies such as Sony, Disney, Rolex, Kodak, Epsom, Pepsi and Johnson and Johnson.
In 1980, Greenfield set up her studio and invited people to improvise non-repeatable movements. Movements that only the camera can see at 1/2000 of a second, she wanted to demonstrate the way that a camera can slice time. This was helped by the use of the medium format Hasselblad camera,”In my early work, I used the black frame (the negative’s actual border), to interact dramatically with my subjects. Their improvisations play off the frame as though it were a real container. The frame often confines or radically crops them to imply entrances, exits and off-screen space.” Lois said about her experience with the Hasselblad.
“I’ve spent the last 35 years of my photographic career investigating movement and its expressive potential. My inspiration has always been photography’s ability to stop time and reveal what the naked eye cannot see. What intrigues me is making images that confound and confuse the viewer, but that the viewer knows, or suspects, really happened.” – Lois Greenfield.
“The ostensible subject of my photographs may be motion, but the subtext is time. A dancer’s movements illustrate the passage of time, giving it a substance, materiality, and space. In my photographs, time is stopped, a split second becomes an eternity, and an ephemeral moment is solid as sculpture. My interest in photography is not to capture an image I see or even have in my mind, but to explore the potential of moments I can only begin to imagine.” – Lois Greenfield.
The Series of images that interest me the most created by Greenfield are ‘Forces in Motion’ and ‘Celestial Bodies/Infernal Souls’. These images capture movement in a split second, they create shapes that would otherwise be impossible for the human body to form. Greenfield really captures the impossible moment, that would normally be missed by the naked eye. She wants her models to show their expression through their movements and capture an exact moment that can never be repeated. There is something amazing in the way that every image of Greenfield’s is unique, it is personal to that moment in time, and virtually impossible to recreate.
“I prefer to work outside the constraints of choreography, collaborating with dancers on improvised, non-repeatable, often high-risk moments. These moments are not plucked from a continuum, but exist only as isolated instants. There is a dynamic tension between dance and photography. I exploit photography’s ability to fragment time and fracture space, translating 360 degrees into a 2 dimensional image, depicting moments beneath the threshold of perception.” – Lois Greenfield.
I have been inspired by the way that Greenfield works, and the beautiful images that she creates. I want to use this way of working in my own project and capture the precise moment of a movement. I will use this method of working to express the way that architecture constrains people, the way that certain buildings make people feel, and i will capture the exact moment that those emotions are expressed.
“I am dealing in the poetics of a visual language rather than in its literalness. I want my images to defy rational explanation. There is no “solution” to the questions posed by my photographs- they are meant to frame contradictions, present the impossible, and find coherence within chaos. All my pictures are taken as single image, in-camera photographs. I never recombine or rearrange the figures within my images. Their veracity as documents gives the photographs their mystery, and the surrealism of the imagery comes from the fact that our brains don’t register split seconds of movement.” – Lois Greenfield.