Lauren Greenfield Biography

Lauren Greenfield Biography

Acclaimed documentary photographer/filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield is considered a preeminent chronicler of youth culture, gender and consumerism, as a result of her monographs “Girl Culture,” “Fast Forward,” “THIN” and other photographic works, which have been widely published, exhibited, and collected by leading museums around the world.

Her latest feature-length documentary film, “The Queen of Versailles” was the Opening Night film of Sundance 2012 where it won the Best Director Award in the U.S. Documentary Competition.  The Queen of Versailles was acquired by Magnolia Pictures on the first night of Sundance and went on to critical acclaim and box office success, winning the Brisbane International Film Festival BIFFDOC Prize, and Best Documentary nominations from the Director’s Guild of America, the International Documentary Association, Critics Choice, and the London Critics Circle Film Awards.  It was named on many Top Ten Films of the Year lists, including the New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, Art Forum, and New York Newsday.

In addition to “The Queen of Versailles,” Lauren previously directed three award-winning documentary films – “THIN,” “kids + money,” and “Beauty CULTure.” "THIN" was selected for the Official Competition at Sundance in 2006, was nominated for an Emmy for Best Direction, and received the prestigious John Grierson Award for Best Documentary at the London Film Festival.  "kids + money,” a documentary short about consumerism and young people, was selected for the Shorts Competition at Sundance 2008, won several Best Documentary Awards (AFI, Ann Arbor, Gold Hugo), and was named one of the top five nonfiction shorts worldwide in 2009 by Cinema Eye.  Greenfield’s 30-minute film "Beauty CULTure" was commissioned by the Annenberg Foundation and was the centerpiece of the record-setting and Lucie award-winning photography exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in which she was a featured artist. The THIN and Girl Culture are also traveling museum exhibitions that have been seen by over a quarter million people in more than thirty venues around the world since 2002.

Greenfield graduated from Harvard in 1987 and started her career as an intern for National Geographic.  Since then, her photographs have regularly appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Time, GQ, and American Photo, and have won many awards including the International Center for Photography Infinity Award, the Hasselblad Grant, the Community Awareness Award from the National Press Photographers, and the Moscow Biennial People’s Choice Award. She lectures on her photography and films, youth culture, and body image at museums and universities around the world and serves on the Advisory Committee of Harvard University’s Office for the Arts. Greenfield has been named one of the 25 most influential photographers working today (American Photo), and was featured in the Getty Museum’s historical exhibition, “Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography Since the Sixties” (2010). In 2013, she was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Greenfield lives in Venice, California with her husband and producing partner, Frank Evers (Class of “87), and their two sons.  She is currently at work on a major museum exhibition and thematic retrospective book entitled “Wealth: The Influence of Affluence” to be published in 2015. 


Greenfield graduated with Honors from Harvard in 1987 with a B.A., majoring in Visual and Environmental Studies (VES). Her Senior Thesis photography project on the French Aristocracy was called "Survivors of the French Revolution".  This project helped start her career as an intern for National Geographic Magazine. A subsequent grant from National Geographic provided financial support towards her debut monograph, "Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood" (Knopf 1997).  Five years after the publication of "Fast Forward", Greenfield produced a second monograph about the self-esteem crisis amongst American women, entitled "Girl Culture" (Chronicle Books, 2002),

Since starting her career in 1991, her photographs have been published in leading publications around the world, including the The New Yorker, New York Magazine, New York Times Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Stern, The Guardian, Le Monde, Paris Match, D - La Repubblica, Time, Vanity Fair, People, National Geographic, ELLE, Harper's, Harper's Bazaar, and Marie Claire.

Museums and exhibitions

In addition to her books, "Fast Forward", "Girl Culture", and "THIN", Greenfield has produced three large-scale traveling exhibitions with the same names, which have exhibited in museums and cultural institutions around the world.

Her photography, including bodies of work like "Fast Forward", "Girl Culture", and "THIN", is now in many major collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the J. Paul Getty Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the International Center of Photography, the Center for Creative Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), the Harvard University Archive, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Clinton Library, and the French Ministry of Culture. She is represented by the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York, the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco.

Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood

In concert with the publication of her debut monograph, "Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood" (Knopf 1997).  Her first major show, "Fast Forward" had its US debut at the International Center for Photography (ICP) on April 25th, 1997 and was extended two additional months due to high attendance and critical acclaim (April 25 - September 7, 1997). The show has exhibited in France, Holland, Italy, Russia and a number of cultural venues in North America.

Girl Culture

The success of her second monograph "Girl Culture"(Chronicle Books, 2002) and the accompanying show (same name) helped to cement her worldwide reputation as documentary photographer. The book was reprinted five times by Chronicle Books and the show was exhibited at more than 29 venues around the world (France, Germany, Holland, Russia and USA).


Her third major exhibition, THIN, accompanied both a feature length documentary film, Thin (film) (HBO, 2006), and a published photographic book, THIN (Chronicle Books, 2006).  The exhibition debuted at The Women's Museum in Dallas, Texas and continued to exhibit through 2010. 

The Annenberg Space for Photography

In March 2009, Greenfield was chosen to be a Featured Photographer  (alongside Julius Shulman, Tim Street-Porter, Douglas Kirkland, Greg Gorman, Carolyn Cole, Catherine Opie and John Baldessari) in the inaugural exhibition at The Annenberg Space for Photography, “L8S ANG3LES”.

In May 2011, Greenfield was invited for a second time to be a Featured Artist at The Annenberg Space for Photography, as part of its exhibition, "Beauty CULTure" (Los Angeles, May 21 - November 26, 2011), as one of only four Featured Photographers (alongside Melvin Sokolsky, Albert Watson, and Tyen).  In addition to being highlighted as a Featured Artist with prints of her work appearing in the exhibition, Greenfield was commissioned by The Annenberg Space for Photography to direct a 30 minute documentary film about the subject of the exhibition. The resultant documentary film formed the centerpiece of the exhibition.  Attendance by the public to the "Beauty CULTure" exhibition broke all prior attendance records.  In October 2011, the exhibition received the Lucie Award for Curator(Kohle Yohannan)/Exhibition of the Year.

Getty Museum

From June to November 2010, a collection of her photographic work from "Fast Forward" and "Girl Culture" was featured in "Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography Since the Sixties", a record-breaking photographic photographic exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, curated by Brett Abbott.  Her work was exhibited alongside similarly curated collections by Leonard Freed (Black in White America), Philip Jones Griffiths (Vietnam Inc.), W. Eugene Smith (Minamata), Susan Meiselas (Nicaragua: June 1978-July 1979), Mary Ellen Mark (Streetwise), Larry Towell (The Mennonites), Sebastião Salgado (Migrations), and James Nachtwey ("The Sacrifice").  In October 2010, the exhibition received the Lucie Award for Curator(Brett Abbott)/Exhibition of the Year.


Undergraduate Years (Harvard 1983-1987)

In 1986, Greenfield traveled around the world on a year-long undergraduate program created by the International Honors Program (now called SIT Graduate Institute), entitled "Film Study and Anthropology" and led by Harvard professors Vladimir K. Petric, Robert Gardner and Akos Oster.  This experience exposed her to anthropological and documentary film-making in France, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, India, Australia and Japan. Upon her return, she continued to studied film-making under the tutelage of established documentary filmmaker, Robb Moss. In 1988 she co-directed a 25 minute film, entitled "Once You're In" (1988), about Irish illegal immigrants living in Boston.


In 2006, Greenfield was commissioned to direct her first feature-length documentary for HBO about eating disorders, entitled THIN (see Thin (film)), and has published an accompanying book with the same title. This feature documentary film was selected for the Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. In September 2006, Greenfield received the prestigious John Grierson Award for director of the best feature-length documentary at the London Film Festival 2006. This film also picked up the Grand Jury Prize at the Independent Film Festival of Boston, the Newport International Film Festival, and the Jackson Hole Film Festival. She also received an 2007 EMMY nomination for Best Director of Non-Fiction programming for the film, THIN (see Thin (film)).


In 2007, Greenfield directed a short film about Los Angeles kids and their relationship to money. Selected interviews were released online by the New York Times Magazine in December 2007   Greenfield continued to film Los Angeles youth and released a 32 minute documentary short in 2008. HBO licensed North American broadcast rights to "kids + money" in 2008, and the film was distributed to broadcasters and cable networks around the world.

"kids + money" was selected as one of the top five nonfiction shorts in the world by Cinema Eye Honors 2009.  The short also won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the AFI Film Festival 2007, the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film at the 2008 Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Gold Plaque, Documentary:Social/Political from The Hugo Television Awards 2008, and Best Documentary Short at Kids First Film Festival 2008. "kids + money" was also selected into the Official Shorts Program at the Sundance Film Festival (January 2008).

Beauty CuLTure (The Annenberg Space for Photography)

In February 2011, the Annenberg Space for Photography commissioned Greenfield to direct a short documentary film, "Beauty CULTure", to make up the central focus of this record-setting[33] "Beauty CULTure" exhibition (May - November 2011).  Shot in Paris, New York and Los Angeles, this 30 minute film is a critical examination of " in popular culture, the narrowing definition of beauty in contemporary society, and the influence of media messages on the female body image".

The Queen of Versailles

In January 2012, Lauren Greenfield received the Sundance Film Festival's Directing Award, US Documentary 2012 for her documentary feature film, entitled "The Queen of Versailles", which is scheduled for a theatrical release in 2012.  Previously, "The Queen of Versailles" was selected for the U.S. Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival 2012 (The world premieres of 16 American documentary films). " The Queen of Versailles" was further honored by being selected to be the opening night documentary film for the Sundance Film Festival.  The film was acquired by Magnolia Pictures on the first day of the festival.  Also in 2012, she was awarded the Grand Jury Prize from the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFFDOCS), a second Best Director Award from the RiverRun Film Festival, the Special Jury Documentary Feature prize from the deadCenter Film Festival.  On October 22, 2012, "The Queen of Versailles" was nominated for Best Documentary Film, 2012 by the International Documentary Association (IDA).  According to PBS/POV, The Queen of Versailles was ranked #2 of the Top 10 Documentaries of 2012, based on awards, nominations and other ranking criteria.

Short Films

Greenfield has also directed a number of documentary shorts and multimedia pieces:

    • Best Night Ever (2012) a 7 minute short documentary for GQ Magazine
    • Become (2011) a series of documentary shorts
    • Fashion Show (2010) multimedia with photo, video and audio
    • Foreclosure: Death of the American Dream (2009) - multimedia with photo, video and audio
    • Ben Gals (2008) - multimedia with photo and audio 
    • Teen Spa (2007) - multimedia with photo and audio 
    • Jackie Warner (2007) - multimedia with photo, video and audio 
    • Teen Lipo (2006) - multimedia with photo and audio 

Ms. Greenfield is represented by Chelsea Pictures, Stockland Martel,and INSTITUTE for Artist Management.  She was a member of the VII Photo Agency from 2002 to 2009. She is married to Frank Evers (Founder/CEO, INSTITUTE and the Co-Founder of the New York Photo Festival),  with whom she has two sons, and they reside in Venice, California.


    • THIN (Chronicle Books, 2006)
    • Girl Culture (Chronicle Books, 2002)
    • Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood (Hard cover Knopf, 1997; soft cover Chronicle Books 2002)


    • The Queen of Versailles Produced by Evergreen Pictures. US Theatrical release by Magnolia Pictures in July 2012.
    • Beauty CULTure (Commissioned by The Annenberg Space for Photography, produced by Evergreen Pictures. Launched in 2011),
    • kids + money (Commissioned by The New York Times and produced by Evergreen Pictures. Broadcast on HBO in 2008)
    • THIN (Commissioned by HBO for broadcast, 2006)
    • Once You're In (Student film, 1988)