Primate Portraits

Portrait photographer Jill Greenberg has a successful career shooting celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Clint Eastwood for the likes of Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, Vanity Fair, and Time. In 2001, …

Portrait photographer Jill Greenberg has a successful career shooting celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Clint Eastwood for the likes of Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, Vanity Fair, and Time. In 2001, the Montreal-born Greenberg was photographing a children’s furniture commercial, using two children and, for comic relief, a trained monkey clanging away on pots and pans. Halfway into the session, Greenberg decided to snap straight portraits of the monkey. “Once I saw the film,” she explains from her studio in Los Angeles, “it was a really powerful portrait of this animal. There was this pensive, hesitant, serious quality.” Greenberg was smitten. She began renting every variety of trained primate available (“they really stink up the place”) and photographing them as if they were A-list Hollywood stars. Each animal shown here is a “professional actor,” complete with resumé of film and commercial work, and, of course, plenty of attitude.

Jill Greenberg

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