Category Archives: 14 Setting the scene

Research Point: Gregory Crewdson

We are to watch the YouTube video about Gregory Crewdson and consider a few questions.

Do you think there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?

Most definitely! Personally I find his work to be rather quiet, but at the same time surreal, yet voyeuristic with overtones of psychological drama with perhaps a touch of film noir thrown in for good measure. There is an aesthetic beauty to his work in the rendition of his use of light and colour. Because of the huge production team and his process of photographying, his images are very large and as such they draw one into the scene, creating more questions in one’s mind than answers.

Do you think Crewdson suceeds in making his work ‘psychological’? What does this mean?

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary denotes  the adjective ‘psychological’ as ‘of or affecting the mind’. When Crewdson places people in his images, they tend to have very static and unnatural stances. They look very stiff. They are sometimes totally oblivious to their surroundings. This creates a disconnect between the beautiful light and surroundings and causes the viewer to feel a little uncomfortable. The viewer is fully aware that something is ‘off’.

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?

I think my main goal is to create a message, to convey an idea to the viewer, at least this is what I’m trying to aim for.  I don’t think there is anything wrong in making aesthetic beauty my main goal, however it would depend on what kind of photograph I am making. I would probably aim for aesthetic beauty when making a landscape image rather than when making street photography or documentary images. That being said, I’m not a great fan of over-processed landscape photos; a little post processing is fine, but I prefer my images to reflect reality more than showing off my Photoshop skills.

Reference List

Gregory Crewdson’s Photography Capturing a Movie Frame | Art in Progress | Reserve Channel (vidcast, online). 16/07/2012. 27 mins 35 secs. Available from: (accessed 10/02/2016)


Exercise: Goodfellas

For this exercise we are asked to look at a short scene from the movie Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese in 1990.

Click on image to see clip | The Long Take: GoodFellas

We are asked to answer the following questions:

  • What does this scene tell you about the main character?
  • How does it do this? List the clues.

This short scene conveys to me that the main character is well known and rather important in certain circles. This is revealed to us in stages:

  • The main character is obviously on a date. He has a beautiful woman at his side. The background music Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals is playing. The song is about a girl on her first date and the progression of her romance to her marriage to the man of her dreams.
  • He gives his car keys to the parking valet (he has someone who watches his car for him – only important or rich people have that).
  • He takes his date downstairs to the back entrance of the Copacobana night club to avoid the queue at the main entrance. (He is very familiar with the layout of the premises. General public do not normally enter through the tradesmen entrance).
  • As he enters, he passes the doorman a $20 bill.
  • The back passage to the restaurant is long and convoluted and painted red (the colour of romance and also danger – a hint of ominous things to come perhaps). He obviously knows his way around the premises. (He has been there many times)
  • He knows everyone he walks past, greets them and shakes hands and makes typical Italian hand gestures to them (these hand gestures connote his Italian heritage to the viewer).
  • He ushers his date through the large kitchen, checking out the meal preparations as he goes, and greeting the chefs. (No one tries to hinder his passage through the kitchen. I get the feeling that this is a common occurrence).
  • As he enters the dining room, walking past a line of people who are standing waiting for a table, he hands a waiter standing on the side a $20 bill.
  • The maître d’ greets him profusely, shaking his hand, ignoring the waiting people.
  • A waiter rushes over carrying a table which he and another waiter quickly set up right in front of the entertainment section, giving him the best seat in the house.
  • He slips the waiters and maître d’ a $20 bill each. (So far he has proved to be a very good tipper).
  • A bottle of wine is sent over to him from other patrons before he has even sat down. (He is someone that people want to stay on good terms with).
  • His date is amazed that he gave everyone a $20 bill (she is suitably impressed and realises that he must be quite a catch)
  • She asks him what he does for a living (a sure sign it is a first date) and when he replies that he is in construction, she makes the remark that his hands are too soft (she has caught him in a lie), to which he replied with a touch of ambiguity that he is a union delegate (we might read that to be the mafia).
Reference List

The Long Take: Goodfellas [vidcast, online]. Barthesian. 01/03/2009. 3 mins 12 secs. Available from: [Accessed 8 February, 2016]