Eye to Eye

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Family Album


  • A Family Album of Photographic Coincidences, Similarities and Enigmas

    John Greiner


  • Isnt it odd how much more one sees in a photograph than in real life?

    Virginia Woolf

  • Family photographs rarely make their way into a printed book or public exhibition because they normally are not of any interest to anyone outside of the immediate family, and our snapshots usually do not fall within the realm of what might be considered Good Photography.

    These facts raise many interesting questions:Why cant family snapshots be of interest to everyone?How could they be made to be of interest?What is Good Photography?

    As a working designer/photographer and educator, this was an irresist-ible challenge. These questions led to experiments with distancing myself emotionally from the subjects in the photographs by emphasizing their comparative relationships.

    Photographs speak to us in the sense that they convey information, but they also speak in many ways to each other and through each other.

  • The various contrasts and similarities between my wife, Angelas family from Berlin and North Germany and mine from New Jersey was a starting point. That we both were involved in Chicagos cultural life and that our three children in Chicago work in the arts presented many opportunities for comparisons and contrasts. The subject of these photographs, unlike most family albums, is not the individual. The subject is that which is teased into existence by the juxtaposition of images.

    Good Photography is not subject matter alone. It encompasses cropping, composition, size, scale, selection juxtaposition and printing. Look for the many ways photographs interact with each other. Captions, while neces-sary in an traditional album to identify who, where and when would here be distractive and limiting.

    John Greiner

  • My Father, Bernard, built this house in Berlin, German for his wife, Thea and Peter, my brother and I in 1937 when I was two years old. It was the first house damaged by English bombers in 1941. We all hid in the basement during the bombing. The German government reimbursed us and the house was rebuilt, later my Father moved us to his hometown, Erlte in North Germany for the duration of the war.



  • My Father, Herman, bought a small bungalow in the middle of an acre of ground on a dead-end street in Vineland, New Jersey. We moved there when I was two years old. He was so proud of the fact that he managed to buy it for $1500 less than the asking price of $5000. That was in 1937. He and my Mother, Elizabeth lived there for the rest of their lives. John

  • My Mothers High School Science Notebook

  • My Mothers Nursing Home Notebook

  • This is a Tintype. A photograph on a metal plate that was in Johns family album. No one knows who she is.It is a beautiful relic and a reminder of the early days of photography.

    We wanted you to see it, but out of respect for her and the history of photography we have paired her only with your thoughts.

  • John and Angela Greiner

    John is a Graphic Designer, Photographer and Educator. He and Angela met in Frankurt, Germany in 1960. They married there and moved to Basel, Switzerland where Angela attended the University of Basel and John the Basel School of Design to study with Armin Hofmann.

    They moved to New York in 1962. John worked at a Park Avenue ad agency as typog-raphy director, then as staff designer for Geigy Chemical Corporation. In 1967 John accepted a position as executive designer for Unimark International in Chicago and worked on identity programs for Ford Motors, JCPenney, and Memorex.Angela was born in Berlin, Germany the same year and month as John. She began work for the Goethe-Institute Chicago, German Cultural Center as program coordinator, a position she held for over 20 years.

    John has directed Greiner Design Associates in Chicago since 1971, producing visual communications for some of the largest retail, industrial and cultural organizations in the country and has created graphics programs for many of Chicagos top Architectural firms and their clients.

  • His book Adams Sketchbook, A Fable on Creativity was selected by the American Insti-tute of Graphic Arts as one of the 50 best designed books of the year and won Chicago Book Clinics Best of Show in 2000.

    John directed the department of visual communications at the School of the Art In-stitute from 1985 to 1988. He was a professor of design at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he headed the MFA program in graphic design and taught a design seminar and senior graphic and photo workshop from 1988 to 2006. From 1988 to 1993 he served as graphics editor of the journal Design Issues.

    Their three children live in Chicago and all work in the arts. Markus is a graphic de-signer working in film and video. Celia designs and manufactures furniture and Ania manages events at Columbia College Chicago and is a performance and video artist.

    John and Angela have traveled and photographed extensively throughout Europe and Mexico.

  • All photographs were taken by Angela, John, or members of their immediate family. Photographs of others who are not family members are included because they have become part of our family album.

    Angela and John hope you have enjoyed Eye to Eye. We thank you for looking and welcome your comments.jhgreiner@sbcglobal.net