On this installment of ‘Photo Roots,’ I’ve got another contemporary photographer’s work for your consideration: that of one Gregory Crewdson. (The inclusion of which begs the question, ‘Is ‘Photo Roots’ really an apt name for this series, which has featured two contemporaries and only one “founding” photographer thus far?)
Crewdson’s work is controversial in the photo community; his photos are each elaborately staged, the complexity and scale of which can rival small-budget films.
In fact, this photo’s shoot ran about $1 Million:
Regardless of how the photos are executed, the concepts and subject matter appeal highly to me- and not for reasons ill-understood. Crewdson’s main focus is suburbia- her malaise and mysteries- and he shoots much of his work in low light. This combination is one of my favorites in photography, and one from which I draw my own inspiration.
According to Wikipedia:
Gregory Crewdson’s photographs usually take place in small town America, but are dramatic and cinematic. They feature often disturbing, surreal events. The photographs are shot using a large crew, and are elaborately staged and lighted.
From an interview:
AL: There are several articles connecting different contemporary artists who seem to be working in a similar vein, about suburbia, its dark side, perhaps. Do you feel comfortable being included in this “movement”?
GC:I think that there are certain general tendencies. Artists are drawn to certain things, and certainly I feel aligned with certain things and not others. The work that inspires me sort of comes from that tradition, like Edward Hopper, Robert Frank, William Eggleston, or Stephen Spielberg. We all approach suburbia with a sense of possibilities.
I see a lot of Edward Hopper in Crewdson’s work. I think many, many photographers are influenced by Hopper simply for the fact that the man understood light, and light is the most influencing element in any photograph. Crewdson’s images are constructed with meticulous attention to how light affects the scene: which objects it illuminates at what angle, how it can back-light fog or mist, how it reflects off of wet or shiny surfaces- not to mention which areas in the frame are not lit- as well as numerous other aspects.
From the same interview:
AL: I guess different kinds of artists can say the same about your work because there is the sculptural element and then there’s this cinematic element, the photographic element, and even the narrative element.
GC: Well, one of the fantastic things about photography, I think, is that it kind of exists between everything, you know. It’s a currency by which we sort of understand ourselves. Photographic representation exists among almost every avenue of representation.
A great video in which Crewdson discusses the scale of his typical shoot production, and the process in general:
What do you think of this kind of elaborate, precisely planned and controlled, photography?