Richard Vantielcke and Gregory Crewdson – Conceptual and Narrative Photography

Richard Vantielcke

French photographer Richard Vantielcke captures urban landscape and dark figures as conceptual subject matter to create dark, uncanny narratives.  Usually set at night time, Vantielcke’s concepts often involve an individual exploring dark spaces where urban lights are featured to lead the way.  There is an intriguing element of the unknown as the individual’s in his images appear to be seeking the space for answers where Vantielcke also uses trick mirrored effects to bring a sense of surrealism and the supernatural.  The series ‘In the Shadow of Light’, Vantielcke’s subject matter observes a hooded figure within lonely urban spaces underground and in the streets.  The male figure is kept anonymous from the audience which brings across aspects of suspicion and vulnerability as we do not know who this person is and what they could be capable of.  One image of the man sitting at a bus stop is somewhat poignant as the man grips his hands together while looking down; this could suggest a more personal approach to the character of the man as he gives the impression that he is alone and helplessly lost.

Other series composed by Vantielcke all gives reference to classic stories and traditional artists; his series ‘ A Bit like Alice’ (2009) similarly follows the exploration of a young girl in an underground location where throughout her investigations, she finds objects including a mirror that reflects herself as a secondary character.  The girl sees her own reflection making gestures to take a certain direction as she wanders the area.  Vantielcke cleverly uses principles that observes the individual through a different perspective as he integrates multiple versions of the character that could potentially suggest concepts of self discovery; in the narrative, the girl is in some way following her own alter ego.

Vantielcke’s other works also take more lighter approaches to narrative storytelling through other means including self portraiture, urban landscape and light trail photography.  Vantielcke also features other forms of visual interpretation by using text within his images.  For example, the series ‘Watching Big Brother’ has the individual observing lit up messages in dark streets that bring question to the purpose of cultural development in general life.  This challenges the individual as well as the audience as to which choice they would make when faced with a personal question on the spot.

Vantielcke is currently a new major influence toward my own visual narratives where I can sense similarities of dramatic visual storytelling with Gregory Crewdson.  Both photographers create a bold atmosphere in their work that leaves the audience in suspense and this is something that needs to be addressed in my own developments for my final artefact.  My final photographic series for this project needs more drama where the story presents a more intense situation and these conceptual influences by Vantielcke express strong potential.  I particularly admire how Vantielcke uses light simply to act as a lead for the individual.  This brings new ideas of using light as a source of energy to search for something of importance.  This has given me new inspiration to use light alone as a natural element which can be used as a tool to direct the character in the right direction.

Gregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson. Twilight


American photographer Gregory Crewdson is another major influence towards my final artefact.  Crewdson is well known for his dark cinematic style where he often depicts intriguing scenes location in suburban settings in the United States.

Crewdson forms suspenseful narratives where he brings emphasis on mystery and uncanny phenomena where characters in the imagery are often seen standing motionless as an eerie event begins to stir.  Crewdson brings a sense of the paranormal where his visual stories use light and dark to create intensity.  I admire Crewdson for how he allows the audience to identify with the ‘unknown’ presences seen in his work where there is also a atmosphere where events are in limbo.  Crewdson brings an effective approach through how he leaves the audience with a cliffhanger where the viewer is able to predict what will happen next.

For example, one image produced in 1988 depicts a single figure standing outside at night in a suburban street as a bright light shines down upon him.  The image presents a sense of alienation as there is no reveal of where the light is coming from.  This image is suggestive of a potential alien encounter.  Is the boy about to be abducted?  Crewdson brings anonymity to his narrative and he also brings a daring, adventurous feel to the image, almost in a way where we have just seen the beginning of the story.

Reviewing the work of Crewdson and Vantielcke has reminded of how light alone can influence narrative and I conclude that this may be a strong approach to take in my own creative practice.  Both photographers present hidden clues in their imagery where they allow the audience to take an investigative role that may potentially form more pieces to a visual puzzle.  This is something that I aim to achieve where the viewer also becomes interactive in a sense that reflects the character in the images.


ARR Ludimaginary (2016) ‘Portfolio-About the photographer‘ {Online} Available from: (Accessed 13/08/2016)

ARR Strozzina (2009-2010) ‘Manipulating Reality-How Images Re-define the World’ {Online} Available from: (Accessed 13/08/2016)


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