Lois Greenfield is a New York City-based photographer whose work focuses on capturing human movement in its most elegant and evocative forms. To label her a “dance photographer” is to overlook her insight and investigation into the subtleties of such powerful modes of expression. With over 25 years of experience in personal and commercial work, it is her expertise coupled with her insatiable curiosity that continues to be the driving force behind her success.
Bree Lamb: I’ve read that you studied anthropology in college and I found this to be really fitting given your photographic interests. The human need for music and movement is a deep one yet often difficult to verbalize. Do you think your anthropological studies influenced your interests and techniques, if so how?
Lois Greenfield: I never saw a connection between anthropology and my dance photography until I realized that my relationship to photographing dance is that of an outsider. The anthropologist enters another culture not to become a part of it but to analyze it. I am looking at dance from another perspective, that of a photographer. I am translating their movements from the stage to the camera, l’m not looking at dance the way it was intended to be seen.
My goal is not to represent dancers but to collaborate with them outside the constraints of choreography. Freed from the circumscribed steps in a dance, the dancers I work with improvise, knowing that I will pick up moments that are expressive, even though not part of a dance.
BL: I can’t help but be reminded of Eadweard Muybridge’s human locomotion images. Do you ever look at your work as scientific studies as you discover the subtleties of human movement that our eye often cannot see?
LG: Unlike Muybridge’s studies I am not looking for an answer or to analyze the mechanics of a jump. But like him, I am interested in moments beneath the threshold of perception, moments only recordable by camera. The fact that so many of my dancers are portrayed floating would make it a different kind of study, as floating is effortless, a non-action. These moments make the dancers look angelic.
I am interested in capturing the evocative nature of movement, not the analysis of it. As to the role of science in my photos, gravity, or rather the absence of it, is usually a theme in my images.