A photographer spent 25 years documenting rich people --  here's what she learned

Award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has been photographing and interviewing the wealthy since the early 1990s. After attending college at Harvard, Greenfield returned to her home in Los Angeles, and began documenting youth culture.

At that time, she didn’t realise that she was photographing the beginning of “a period of rampant materialism and wealth obsession,” as economist and sociologist Juliet Schor writes in the introduction of “Generation Wealth,” Greenfield’s newest book.

Since then, Greenfield’s work has expanded internationally — examining megamansions, extravagant bottle service at night clubs, a 24-karat solid gold toilet, America’s obsession with plastic surgery, and much more.

“What I learned from many of [my subjects] is that chasing wealth is unending and ultimately unsatisfying. As the former Wall Street trader Sam Polk recognises, it’s an addiction like any other, and the more you have, the more you want and the more you think you need,” wrote Greenfield in her introduction. Ahead, a look inside “Generation Wealth.” Captions written by Greenfield.

'Limo Bob, 49, the self-proclaimed 'Limo King,' wears thirty-three pounds of gold and a full-length fur coat given to him by Mike Tyson. His fleet of limousines, including a 100-foot-long Cadillac, are outfitted with crystal chandeliers, Jacuzzis, and stripper poles.'

Limo Bob in his office, Chicago, 2008

'Xue Qiwen, 43, in her Shanghai apartment, decorated with furniture from her favourite brand, Versace, 2005. In 1994 Xue started a company that sells industrial cable and has since run four more. She is a member of three golf clubs, each costing approximately $100,000 to join.'

Xue Qiwenin, 43, Shanghai, 2005

'Christina, 21, a Walmart pharmacy technician, en route to her wedding in Cinderella's glass coach, drawn by six miniature white ponies and with bewigged coachman, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.'

Christina, 21, en route to her wedding in Cinderella's glass coach, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, 2013.

'A VIP guest 'makes it rain' with hundreds of dollar bills on a sold-out Saturday night at Marquee, routinely ranked as one of the top-grossing nightclubs in the United States, Las Vegas.'

Marquee nightclub, Las Vegas, 2012.

'Ilona's sweater was produced for her in a custom colour by her friend Andrey Artyomov, whose Walk of Shame fashion line is popular among the wives of oligarchs.'

Ilona with her daughter, Michelle, 4, Moscow, 2012.

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.