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Friday 26 February 2021

Home - Articles - On Our Radar: Movie Genres Through the Eye of Still Image

24 Frames: Serving as the very basis of films, still image has long been interlaced with Cinema history (e.g. Eadweard Muybridge’s sequence of a Horse’s gallop in 1878). From the get-go and since the early days of film, the two siblings have influenced each other in terms of aesthetics, movements, interpretations of time and reality, and even the marketplace. So, it only seems rational to assume that one can garner a vast array of knowledge about movies by simply looking at photographs.

 

Today we explore nine photo series by various photographers around the globe and their striking resemblance to the fundamental aesthetics of prominent film genres, in hopes of presenting alternative sources of inspiration to cinema’s newcomers.

 

 

 

Genre: Horror

“Twilight” series by Gregory Crewdson

Crewdson’s signature eerie outlook comes in full display in his twilight series, transforming American suburbs into a dark backdrop for disturbing events ready to unfold. The name “Twilight” amplifies this hair-raising sensation of limbo and uncertainty that often goes hand in hand with horror features. His arranged compositions are full-on cinematic mise en scènes as if you have pressed pause in the middle of a climax of a slasher.

 

 

 

 

Genre: Comedy

“Last Resort” series by Martin Parr

Last Resort is a series of photographs capturing the British working class in New Brighton beach resort, from 1983 to 1985. Parr’s onboard flash photography and saturated frames depicted a chaotic society on the verge of a breakdown but his subject choices manage to convey a comical sense of mayhem that makes it impossible for the viewer not to chuckle while watching the world burn. Martin Parr’s critical lens changed the shape of British photography by daring to hilariously mock English society.

 

 

 

 

Genre: Fiction

“Homegrown” series by Julie Blackmon

Inspired by Jan Steen’s messy paintings of his family’s everyday life, Julie Blackmon uses her similar upbringing background as her main focus. Through her photographs of crowded households and scenery, she illustrates a sense of escapism that makes mundane activities seem rather otherworldly and fantastical. In Homegrown (her most refined series style-wise) Blackmon combines humor and fantasy to depict common places other than home that a child might visit.

 

 

 

Genre: Mystery

“Monument” series by Sibylle Bergemann

Growing up as a white-collared woman in East Germany, Bergemann’s frames portray a dreamlike quality in atmospheric social scenes. The monument is the result of accompanying the making of a bronze statue by Ludwig Engelhardt in Berlin. Entirely shot in black and white, the series documents the process as a mysterious and silent journey in a frozen land and serves as a tremendous representation of GDR.

 

 

 

Genre: Thriller

“The Bee- The Mirror” series by Yuki Onodera

Tokyo-born Yuki Onodera is known for her experimental and unconventional methods in photography. From taking “portraits” of clothes to shooting with a marble inside her camera, she’s one that never misses the opportunity of testing her surrounding’s potential. In her The Bee-The Mirror series she has captured her usual ambiance in the middle of the night with a flashlight beam reflected in a mirror. Although depicting everyday objects, the series channels a feeling of suspense and tension that’s essential to the thriller genre.

 

 

 

Genre: Documentary

“Morocco” series by Harry Gruyaert

Known for his extensive portfolio in color photography, Harry Gruyaert is known as a pioneer of color composition in street photography. Gruyaert is a true flaneur, strolling through the streets of various countries, trying to find light in an otherwise de-saturated world and Morocco is one of his favorite destinations to do so. Visiting the North African land several times, he has stated that this country made him cherish color more than ever and inspired him to try and explore the true aura of places in a particular time.

 

 

 

Genre: Drama

“Streetwise” series by Mary Ellen Mark

Streetwise is a collection of photographs of Seattle’s street children and their struggles in their brutal living situation. Originally assigned to Mark as a project by Life magazine, it eventually found a life of its own and later paved the way for a documentary film. Throughout the years, she revisited the children (especially a child prostitute named Tiny) and continued documenting their lives. Albeit considerate of the subject’s limits, Mary Ellen Mark was a photographer that pushed her own limits to find truth and reality in daily life.

 

 

 

Genre: Action

“Vietnam” series by Horst Faas

Horst Faas was a photojournalist working with the Associated Press, famous for documenting various wars in the globe including Algeria, Congo, and Vietnam. Fass was a true risk-taker, putting everything on the line to find the ideal angle in the middle of a carnage. During his stay in Vietnam, he trained a group of freelance artists and supplied them with photography equipment to make it easier for them to capture the perfect shot. His depiction of gruesome man-made catastrophe in flawlessly composed shots turned him into of the most iconic war photographers of all time.

 

 

 

Genre: Crime

“The Duty to Report” series by Letizia Battagalia

Capturing Sicilian Mafia, Letizia Battagalia’s main goal was to use photography to take action, bear witness and provide evidence to the brutal tyranny happening in Italy. Her genre-defining style provided her with “an archive of blood” that later on encouraged her to pursue political activism as a career. She believes that documenting the crimes were her “Duty” and a moral obligation. She has stated that she never put the camera down even if she was distressed and trembling with terror.

 

Written by Negar Fard

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