Breathtaking moments between the moments
I just finished watching the documentary Brief Encounters about photographer Gregory Crewdson. Not really sure why I hadn’t seen his work before, but I find it completely mesmerizing…for a lot of reasons, Chief among these reasons is probably that most of the work is created in VERY suburban (almost rural) Western Massachusetts. (He’s not from there, but visited there often as a young person.) Some of the his shooting locations reminded me of the areas I’d drive through as a kid with my parents. I grew up in Eastern Mass., but they’re from Greenfield…Turners Falls. What I always found so hauntingly beautiful is the way that some of the towns feel a bit stuck. Stuck in time. Stuck in some sort of socioeconomic slide. I don’t know. It feels sad and beautiful and surreal, but accessible at the same time.
The documentary focused on Crewdson’s journey while he created his Beneath the Roses project. Real locations, VERY real subjects. Very possibly real scenarios. But that’s the best part. He, himself, said he tries to capture the moment between moments. He’s definitely telling a story, but not the whole story. Who knows, maybe HE doesn’t even know the story.
One of the other aspects of the work that I find fantastic is the scale. These photo shoots, sometimes taking a few days to capture one image, could easily be mistaken for the filming of a big budget movie. Often these images encompass a ¼ mile of these sleepy towns. Huge in scale, but still feel so small and personal. It’s this scale that creates my first and favorite impression of his work. There’s so much emotion and mood in the images…in the people in the images, but you can’t get close to them. It’s this amazing balance between the big picture and the tiniest moment.
It’s also wild the way he’s lighting these huge scenes. He admits that shooting on this scale is kind of a response to the excitement of pulling off such big lighting.
There are a million things I’d want to say about these images, But you should really see the doc and his work. Here’s the trailer.