Yesterday I came across a fascinating interview with Gregory Crewdson (thank you Zhai Y.) in which he explains the process of creating his images.
In one part he says: “…but I think that’s where the mystery of the picture comes from – that tension, from the impossibility of that happening while trying as much as you can to make it happen.” Later he concludes: “When somebody is looking at my picture, I want them just to fall into the world of the photograph.”
It got me thinking, intensely. I started wondering why it is so difficult to make those pictures that go beyond “beautiful” and craft the frame in a way that lets us “fall into them” and submerge on a very deep level. Or in plain language, stop and stare.
As usual when I try to find a reference point, I come back to writing. Some writers not only capture your attention with fluid and thought-provoking prose but put together words in a way that if read long and deep enough you penetrate between the lines to find another, hidden layer of implication and meaning. It is similar with photography. Sometimes we see a flawless photograph which portrays a scene and indeed, we enjoy it but somehow, after an initial “wow” we move on.
On the other hand, from time to time we encounter a photograph which doesn’t allow us to move on, to forget. The image invites, entertains, questions, even provokes. We fall into it so much that we start reading between the lines, or rather, seeing between shadow and light. The photograph triggers all our senses, firing up our imagination and emotions.
This is when… well let me quote Gregory Crewdson once more: “Whoever the photographer is, that’s a constant, because it’s who they are. It’s their history, it’s their trauma, it’s their desire, it’s their fascination, it’s their terror. So you have that story, that compulsion, and then you have the pictorial form, which is the attempt to take that invisible story and represent it in pictorial form. It’s that coming together of form and content, essentially.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Brilliant!
9 thoughts on “Seeing Between the Lines”
I would find it useful to have an example of what you think is an image that “lets us “fall into them” and submerge on a very deep level. Or in plain language, stop and stare”, as opposed to just a well-composed and thought-out image. Thanks.
it is a shame to ask for comments, ten not reply to them.
Hi Olaf, I like your thoughts and insights about Gregory Crewdson work. Especially your comparison with writers and “the hidden layers of meaning” is interesting:
“Some writers not only capture your attention with fluid and thought-provoking prose but put together words in a way that if read long and deep enough you penetrate between the lines to find another, hidden layer of implication and meaning.”
But are his visuals really candid? or more conceptual like the pictures from painters?
And could you please send us a link to the interview if you like?
Awesome series, Olaf!
A photograph worth falling into is the goal, but extremely difficult to achieve. Even the great photographers only produce so many of these in a career. It is a great goal and it is what keeps us shooting.
Do you have a link to the interview? I couldn’t find it.
Great thoughts Jeff. I will try to find it for you.
Hi Olaf, the top photo has the feeling of the Edward Hopper painting “Nighthawks”. Very haunting.
Thank you so much Susie. What a great observation! Thank you for sharing this with me.