A Staged Photograph (Assignment 3 – in progress)


The brief for the assignment was to produce either:-

  • A staged photograph
  • Or to make a narrative sequence


When I started thinking about this assignment I happened to be reading through Photography: The Whole Story and decided to see if it had anything about staged photography. It did. A lot.

One part had a photograph by Jeff Wall called Double Self-Portrait, MoMa (2007). Seeing this sparked the idea of doing something similar, using the simplest technique I could to produce the image.

With a deadline of June 15th (extended from the 18th May) for the assignment, my initial thought for a staged photograph was to draft in the girls from the burlesque troupe and to use one of our dress rehearsals, of our routines, for Home Farm Festival for the assignment. Continuing with the theme of showing two, or more, aspects to something (the Janus image from assignment 2 and the sequence for exercise 3.3) I thought having the girls in a photo out of costume, while looking at themselves, in costume, in the same image, would be an interesting thing to try.

To achieve something believable would mean controlling all aspects of the environment but particular lighting.

As part of the preparation for the assignment I took several photos at the dance studio we use. In one of the photographs there is a chair on the left hand side of the image, in the other there is a chair on the right hand side. Both photos were cropped so that they contained just over half the photograph, with just enough overlap for Photoshop to stitch the two photos together into a single image. Doing this proved that my aim for the project was possible.

Gregory Crewdson

The course notes suggested looking at Crewdson’s work found at http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/gregory-crewson/

Gregory Crewdsons work is “is meticulously planned and staged, in particular the lighting. In some instances, extra lighting and special effects such as artificial rain or dry ice are used to enhance a natural moment of twilight. In others, the effect of twilight is entirely artificially created.”

The link to Crewdson’s work relates to his work Twilight and contains a number of examples of the images he produced for that project. When looking at some of these images it is easy to imagine that some of them were caught at the exact right moment, in some of the others it is obvious that the scene is staged. For instance in his image of a car in the middle of a junction with a door wide open. There is no reason for the door being open, which leaves you wondering what is happening, has someone got out of the car, is the door open ready for someone to get in?

Another image that suggests it is staged is set outside a supermarket. The figure and car at the front of the scene suggest someone putting groceries in their car but the figures stance appears unnatural, almost mannequin like.

Loh. A, Vescovi. A, (2015) has an example of the image that stood out for me. It is of a woman stood alongside a car, with a bag of groceries on the bonnet and a second bag, spilled on the ground. A girl sits in the passenger seat while another girl stands in front of the car with her head down, only wearing underwear.

The woman by the car has a disappointed, disapproving look on her face.

The girl in front of the car has marks across her back.

What makes this image stand out for me is the figure of the girl. She has short hair, her arms are positioned in such a way that they hide parts of her body. It is a very androgynous look which leaves the possibility that this is not quite as it seems, is the figure actually a girl?

Untitled from Twilight - Gregory Crewdon - VAM.AC.UK
Untitled from Twilight – Gregory Crewdon – VAM.AC.UK

Hannah Starkey

Tate (un-dated) shows an example of Hannah Starkey’s work from 1999. The image is of two women in a bathroom/changing room. The arm of one of the women is partially in the shot but what you see of them is mainly their reflections, and the reflections of their reflections. Starkey has cleverly positioned the camera so that the woman closest to the mirror is visible between the first reflection of the second woman and her reflection in the mirror she is looking into. Almost as if the first woman is coming between the second woman and her reflection.

Starkey’s work involves staged scenes and the use of actors, Saatchi Gallery (2018). Her work explores “everyday experiences and observations of inner city life from a female perspective”, Wikipedia (2018) .

Starkey’s work also involves the use of mirrors, reflections and smoke. In an interview with Diarmuid Costello, The Telegraph (2011), Hannah Starkey about the use of mirrors in her work acts as an escape route in the image.

Starkey’s images are also very static with no obvious movement and no sense that the participants are conversing with each other. This is her way of ensuring that the images aren’t a mass of contradictions.

Final Images

Watching the Performers

Fire Bat

Fire Bat 01 - 72dpi 1024 pixelFire Bat 03 - 72dpi 1024 pixelFire Bat 04 - 72dpi 1024 pixelFire Bat 02 - 72dpi 1024 pixel




Contact Sheets



  1. Tate (un-dated) Hannah Starkey born 1971 Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/hannah-starkey-2683 [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  2. Saatchi Gallery (2018) Hannah Starkey: Selected works by Hannah Starkeey Available at:   https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/hannah_starkey.htm [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  3. Wikipedia (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Starkey [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  4. Artnet (2018) Hanna Starkey Available at:  http://www.artnet.com/artists/hannah-starkey/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  5. The Telegraph (2011) Hanna Starkey: In Conversation Available at:  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/8283609/Hannah-Starkey-In-Conversation.html [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  6. Loh. A, Vescovi. A, (2015) Interview with the Photographer Available at: http://theamericanreader.com/interview-with-photographer-gregory-crewdson/ [Accessed 28 May 2018]
  7. MoMA (2007) Jeff Wall – In His Own Words. Available at: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2007/jeffwall/ [Accessed 5 June 2018]


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