Research point: Gregory Crewdson

The brief tells me that Gregory Crewdson’s work is deliberately cinematic in style and makes us lose our sense of reality and become absorbed with the alternative reality we’re faced with. Some regard this as an effective method of image-making, but for others it lacks the subtlety and nuance of Wall and DiCorcia’s work. What do I think?

Firstly I looked at Crewdson’s Twilight series (1998 – 2002). A large-scale tableaux exploring the relationship between the domestic and the fantastical. His images are dark and disturbing, reminding me of psychological thrillers. The London Evening Standard interpreted this series as “Put Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall and David Lynch into a blender, add half a pint of water and the diluted swirl that emerges will approximate the photographs of Gregory Crewdson. [1]


Is there is more to his work than aesthetic beauty?
Crewdson’s work is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but not beautiful, more mysterious. It is the cinematic quality, scale and the underlying sense of unease it provokes. Every image appears to offer us a frozen moment of a film, enticing the viewer to consider what comes next, the bigger picture. Crewdson’s attention to detail and meticulous planning involves a huge number of dedicated assistants to set the scene.

Do I think Crewdson succeeds in making his work psychological? What does this mean?
I looked closely at his body of work Cathedral of the Pines (2013-2014). Every image that Crewdson created evokes a feeling that something has just happened or is about to happen. As in a psychological thriller, the lighting and colours add to the mood and atmosphere. This image reminds me of the surreal 1990 television series ‘Twin Peaks’.

crewdson-1So, yes, I do think he succeeds in making his work psychological. His work has no hint of action, his subjects pose stiffly like androids. Crewdson says he looks to produce the sense that there are dark undercurrents just beneath the surface of his images.  Clearly he is producing psychological work.

What is my main goal when making pictures?
I don’t have a single main goal, my goal depends on the style of photography I am working on at the time. Of course that isn’t to say I don’t look for aesthetics and beauty while out and about with my camera. What is important for me is that my images are sufficiently strong enough to cause a reaction and encourage discussion, for me and those viewing my work.

Do I think there is anything wrong with making beauty my main goal? Why or why not?
Whilst I don’t think there is anything wrong with beauty being the main focus in photography, I do think that “beauty” is subjective. I have to ask the question; What is beauty? Personally I find beauty in nature, the viewer may interpret my images differently. If there is a trend for a certain style of photography which has been labelled as aesthetically beautiful, then there is no reason why I would not attempt to emulate this – if only for the practice and experience. I would not make it my main goal because I feel it would restrict my learning and experimentation in the wider sense.

1. Crewdson, G. (2002) Gregory Crewdson: Twilight. Available from: [Accessed 10th December 2016]