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Photographer Stanley Greenberg: Back at SLAC

Two years ago photographer Stanley Greenberg visited SLAC to explore an undeveloped idea he had for his next project. He was taking photographs of high energy physics laboratories, and had also been to Fermilab. Since that first visit to SLAC, Greenberg's idea has taken him all over America and halfway around the world. He returned to SLAC last week to take more photographs for what has become a very grand plan.

Those earlier photos of SLAC, Fermilab and CERN helped Greenberg earn a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to create a book focusing on high energy physics experiments. In the past two years, Greenberg has photographed more than a dozen American labs, as well as CERN in Switzerland and DESY in Germany. Later this month he's heading to Japan to photograph KEK, Super-K, J-PARC and the KamLAND Reactor Neutrino Experiment. In August he will visit the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina.

After visiting so many labs, Greenberg can highlight the unique aspects of each one. "Beam lines are somewhat similar everywhere I’ve been; it’s the other aspects that tend to be different. I’ve ended up in a lot of tunnels for several different projects: water tunnels, electrical tunnels, beam line tunnels… but I love them, and I can usually make good pictures in them."

Greenberg photographs in black and white, drawing attention to structure and shape. He uses a simple, straightforward documentary style. In his previous photography books he visited buildings and subway tunnels in New York, focusing on infrastructure and engineering. His next book, out in 2009, is about architecture. He says all the books are connected: "My first two books were about how to make a city. My third book was about how to make a building. And this book is about how to make the universe."

(Photo - Stanley Greenberg)
(Photo - Stanley Greenberg)

The physics book, which does not yet have a publication date, will include a significant amount of text written by a science writer. The text will explain the images and the science behind them. "I hope all of my books will appeal to people in the field, people interested in the field and people who know nothing about the field," he says. "This won't be just a coffee table book with pretty pictures; it needs to have an intellectual basis as well."

Greenberg's work can be seen on his website.

Calla Cofield, SLAC Today, July 11, 2008

Above: Photographer Stanley Greenberg looks down the LCLS beam line tunnel.
Left: Greenberg gets ready to shoot amidst the LCLS construction site. (Photos by Calla Cofield.)