Use of light – Image 4 – Gregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson

When thinking about photographers who use interesting lighting, Gregory Crewdson was the ‘photographer’ who came to mind. Even though Crewdson himself is not directly responsible for the lighting set up, his pre-visualisation of these perfect moments is key for knowing where to place the lights. It is definitely the lighting that makes Crewdson’s images so interesting. Like Pinckers, Crewdson photographs scenes that appear to look a lot like film still, and some interpret them as more interesting and more engaging than whole feature films. But unlike Pinckers, Crewdson has a full production team who are responsible for taking the image that he’s pre-visualised. On set, he’s the equivalent to a film director. He doesn’t even take the photo, he directs it and is responsible for it.


The lighting that he uses the image that I’ve chosen makes it look like a film still, and it adds to the atmosphere of the scene. It is difficult to tell what lighting set up is used, but I know that he uses artificial lights to substitute the light that would come in from the street (ie, lamps, porch lights and car lights) because they would be as visible in a photograph. In this image, the two people appear to be lit by the light above their heads viable in the frame causing shadow on their faces and shadow underneath their seats, but there could we be a more powerful light as a substitute to make it more intense. The same goes for the rome behind them that acts as a backlight to separate them from the background and make clear the contrast between light, the back round and dark, the rome that they are in, to accentuate the melancholy looks that both mother and son are exchanging in the photograph. The other lights are used to give a feel of the outside, with a cooler hue of light acting to show the street lamps and porch lights from outside. These are positioned right at the back of the frame outside the window and to each side of the front of the frame. Overall, all these lights act to create an atmosphere from Crewdson’s perfect moment. He creates worlds that seem real, and this is because of the artificial lighting.


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