Gregory Crewdson

accessed 30.10.2019

Research point

Look up the work of Gregory Crewdson online.
Watch this YouTube video about Gregory Crewdson and his work and consider the
questions below. [accessed 24/02/14]

  • Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?
  • Do you think Crewdson succeeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?
  • What is your main goal when making pictures? Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?

Crewdson’s work is deliberately cinematic in style and as a result is often very popular in
commercial settings. The dark nights, the heavy lights and the perfectly styled locations
and actors aren’t meant to fool us into believing those moments are real, but rather they
seduce us into entering the world of fiction. This visual strategy of elaborate direction,
as in film, makes us lose our sense of reality and become absorbed with the alternative
reality we’re faced with. Some commentators regard this is an effective method of
image-making, but for others it lacks the subtlety and nuance of Wall and DiCorcia’s
work. What do you think?

A lot of Crewdson’s images are created a twilight, which he says he has always had a fascination of that time of day. It seems that it kind of represents the subject matter too. His images are on the cusp of reality and surrealism, I think that’s what makes a them ‘psychological’. We know that what we looking at isn’t real, but it’s close enough for us to question it. The half light also adds to that eerie feeling.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with making your main goal about beauty if that’s what you want. My tutor said to me after one of my assignments, that I should consider how I want to display my work as part of the planning. So if your goal is to make a piece of art that decorates a room, then mere beauty may be all you need. Besides not all real life is dark and miserable, it’s good to depict the beautiful things around us, why can’t an image be both ‘real’ and beautiful. I personally don’t find Crewdson’s images ‘beautiful’, but I do like the surrealism of them and it’s something I often create in my own images, by adding things that aren’t really there:

Assignment No 4 – Post Tutor Feedback Reflection

To read tutor feedback click here

The conversation with Les about this essay was both long and animated. He was really concerned about one of the elements in the image which I had not mentioned, but really was a ‘punctum’ for him.

It relates to the fact that the model is posed in way that she is pulling her dress up revealing her leg, which is bent. The model is dressed in a what Victorian style dress which makes her look like a young girl rather than an adult woman. which I believe was the photographer’s intention. for Les however, because the girl is posed in this way he said it had sexual connotations which really disturbed him. It did not have these connotations for myself.

What was interesting is that before submitting my essay, I had asked my husband and a male work colleague to look at the image and my essay to gain some feedback, both of them also raised the issue of the raised dress showing the bare leg.

Following the conversation with Les, I asked a female work colleague to read the essay and found that she also did not pick up on this as something that she found uncomfortable.

On further discussion with the two men who had previously read the essay, they reflected that although the model is probably over 18, the way she is dressed makes her appear much younger and seeing her posed in what they saw as sexual pose made them feel very uncomfortable. Therefore, I can only conclude that I did not see this as a problem because I did not see the sexual connotations with the model. As a mother of girls who would stand like that, I suppose I saw it quite innocently.

So the question here really, is did the photographer direct the model to stand in this way because she did understand the reaction a man would have to this pose? Did she deliberately pose her to illicit that reaction in male viewers?

This is something I can’t directly answer, but I am aware that she has used this pose for other images as well.

I also know that in most of her portrait photography teaching, she advocates ‘if it bends, bend it’. Therefore, she may merely feel it was a more flattering pose. The truth is I don’t know.

What I have learned though, is that in a completely constructed image such as this one, one should question every element as to why the photographer has chosen to pose the model in this way

Alice, by Les Monaghan

and also that Les’s experience with his own image ‘Alice’ and the subsequent ethical dilemma it left with the publishers and himself have really impacted on the way he now views photos.

This can been seen here, where he took a photo of a young girl dressing up in pink shoes was seen in a totally different light by the commissioners of the photos who saw connotations to child prostitution and exploitation.

Bates says ” these meanings change, according to the frame of thoughts and culture that the viewer brings to the picture” . . .

Les also comments in his feedback; that I should include a ‘punctum’. This I have actually done in my comments about the red light. I think he missed it because his own punctum wasn’t the same as mine.

I think it would be simpler to “say what you see”, then ask what each detail and the whole makes you think of. David Bate’s Key Concepts is good for this

I thought I’d done this so, I guess that’s not how it read, maybe using the PEEL tool, wasn’t quite right for this, my understanding from Les here is that it would be better to first describe the image and then try to link that to the connotations and intentions.

I have now downloaded Key Concepts by David Bates so will see what insight this can give to structuring my writing.

Review of David Bates