Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

Last Thursday my photography class took a field trip to LACMA for my 19th birthday! to watch Gregory Credson: Brief Encounters, a documentary showing the preparations Crewdson and his crew go through in order to take one phenomenal photo.

It all starts with Crewdson driving around the neighborhood he grew up in. He drives the same streets over and over again, looking for inspiration. He gets an idea from whatever he sees, be it a man pushing a wheelbarrow or a run-down house.

The production value of each photograph roughly equals the budget for a short film. Crewdson actually works with many people from film because they know how to set up a stage and shot. In order to take the perfect picture, it has to be taken at dawn or dusk, they usually close down the streets, set up lights, move the objects around to get it “just right”, have the fog truck drive through, and take a hundred frames or so.

Beneath the Roses - Gregory Crewdson

I loved the photo of the old man on the couch in his robe while his wife is in the kitchen. It showed the side of a long marriage that no one besides those in the marriage know about – the repetitiveness, the loneliness, the fading of health and furniture. There’s a phone in the background, but no one calls. Images flash on the tv screen that is out of shot in front of the old man, but it is only a blur and white noise compared to the sharp thoughts in his mind that are screaming with regrets and missed chances. At this old age he and his wife are retired, but where’s the house on the lake overlooking a serene landscape? See that picture on the wall next to the door? That was why he worked for forty years.
Meanwhile his wife is in the kitchen wondering where did it all go wrong? what happened to that passion that they used to have? They don’t even eat dinner together, anymore. All he does is stare at that box and tell her to make him a sandwich.

The effort and precise details of these photographs, not to mention how much money goes into them, gives the artwork much more meaning. The lighting and body gestures portray emotions that one would not see as well had they not hired the right people to set up the shot so well.